Annabelle: Creation, the latest instalment in the Conjuring Universe, crept its way into cinemas across the UK today. So to mark the occasion, we spoke to the film’s director David F. Sandberg to discuss the devilish doll.
David’s career in horror began when he produced the short film Lights Out, a terrifying three minute picture about a woman being pursued by a being that only appears when the lights went out.
The short changed David’s life and he was able to adapt Lights Out into a full feature, which was lauded by horror fans as one of the scariest films of 2016.
It was somewhat inevitable then that David would be called up to offer his take on one of the greatest horror franchises of recent times, the Conjuring Universe, a series he was a fan of and described as ‘old-school horror’.
David admitted to us however, he wasn’t immediately on board for the film, not wanting to work on a by-the-numbers horror. When he read the script and realised it was a standalone film with a period setting, he just couldn’t say no.
Despite Annabelle: Creation being part of the Conjuring universe, David didn’t feel pressured to include links to the wider world of the Warrens and their vendetta against evil.
There wasn’t a lot of pressure to include links to the wider Conjuring Universe especially as [Annabelle Creation] is so separate from the other films.
James Wan gave me a lot of freedom although we did of course include a few references to the films that are still to come including The Nun movie.
David took all of his experience making Lights Out and applied it to Annabelle: Creation and was in his words ‘a picky asshole’ while making the film, particularly when it came to sound design.
Interestingly, despite Annabelle and the Conjuring Universe dealing with the paranormal, David told us he’s not frightened of ghosts and ghouls… instead it’s something far more relatable.
More than anything I’m not frightened of ghosts or monsters, and I think you can tell this by looking back at my short films, I’m frightened of people realising that they’re not alone.
Of course not believing in ghosts didn’t stop David having the set blessed by a priest – a precaution he says he took to ‘make people feel more comfortable’ – as many of the film’s younger cast wouldn’t go near the doll before that.
He and producer James Wan also had the doll itself altered from the previous films to make it look more like a toy someone would actually want to play with.
Annabelle looks a lot less evil yeah, that came about because James Wan had an idea that the doll should actually look like something a child might want to play with because [laughing] what kid would want to play with the thing.
Annabelle: Creation is out in cinemas now.