There’s certainly much to be said about the popularity of The Conjuring (2013) and the many spin-offs and sequel/prequel films in the shared universe that it spawned. While the movie itself is decent, it certainly isn’t the most innovative or frightening horror movie in recent memory. The films tied into it also aren’t particularly memorable. The Curse of La Llorona (2019) took a piece of folklore and made it tangible, understandable, and, eventually, defeatable. The Nun (2018) took the fear of the other, which Catholicism has been subjected to as long as protestants have existed, and turned it into a horror trope. But none have raked in the money, or garnered the instant recognizability, of Annabelle the possessed doll.
Annabelle Comes Home (2019) is the third film to tap into the audience interest in Annabelle and the pediophobia (fear of dolls) in general that she represents. More than a demonic possession film, the movie tackles the terror of ghosts and demons that are conflated in the minds of so many audience members. It’s no wonder she’s popular, and her creepy design (in contrast with the Raggedy Anne doll sitting in The Warrens’ home) appeals to the notion that external appearance matches innternal motive or intent. Annabelle looks creepy, and so she houses evil. It’s not exactly what Lorraine Warren herself said about the real doll in an interview with USA Today: “Looks are deceiving … It’s not what the doll looks like that makes it scary; it is what has been infused within the doll: evil.”