I decided to watch Annabelle because it was supposedly a prequel to The Conjuring, and with The Conjuring 2 coming out in theaters, I felt myself growing a bit obsessive and decided that I wanted to see everything to do with these brilliant films. Even if they didn’t get good reviews.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t too impressed with Annabelle, with one exception: I was immediately able to draw parallels between Annabelle and Rosemary’s Baby. I set up a little brainstorming sesh with my fabulous movie soulmate Chris (he’s the one that wrote that amazing bio piece about me), and we discussed the similar elements in each.
First and foremost would be what we all know: Roman Polanski directed Rosemary’s Baby. Roman Polanski was married to Sharon Tate, who was a victim during the Manson Murders. In Annabelle, there are similar cult-esque murders (which is what leads to the creation of Annabelle), but there’s also a huge news broadcast on during the beginning of the movie about the Manson Murders, where they specifically mention Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski.
Then, with the help of Chris’ keen researching skills, we uncovered a trove of Annabelles. Let’s play the name game:
1.) The doll’s name is Annabelle (obviously), which most likely references the Annabelle from The Twilight Zone “Living Doll” (see photo inset).
2.) The character Mia Form (the mother in Annabelle) is played by Annabelle Wallis.
3.) Mia Farrow plays the mother, Rosemary, in Rosemary’s Baby.
4.) Annabelle Higgins is the daughter (in Annabelle), who murders her parents, Sharon and Pete; Sharon could be a play on Sharon Tate, while Pete could be Joanna Pettit, the actress who had lunch with Sharon Tate at her home the afternoon preceding the murders.
While Chris made correlations between the two films in real-time referencing spirals and the way specific scenes were shot compared to The Phantom of the Opera and Insidious, I remained focused on the task at hand. The pram was my next step (see photo inset).
While I’m sure this particular pram would have been popular in the 60s, I do find it very coincidental (or not) that the two prams referenced specifically for each film were identical black prams. A more obvious, “Who’s your daddy?” “… Lucifer, Lucifer is my daddy” dialogue has never been referenced.
I also wanted to address the elephant in the room: This type of thing always happens to the housewife. Chris posed the question, “Does the possession narrative suggest a metaphor for the bored housewife?” and while I believe it could, I also believe that there’s a second parallel to be drawn about how women were never really taken seriously (and still aren’t, in some cases) when something traumatic happens to them. In Rosemary’s Baby, it was easy for Guy to dismiss Rosemary’s pleas because he had made a deal with Lucifer, but John was essentially absent the entire time that Mia was being haunted.
The women in these situations have two choices: to either become a monster themselves, including sacrificing your life for a proverbial “greater good”; or, in Chris’ words, “transcend that moment and fill that void with matriarchal meaning.”
Most moviegoers would argue that at the end of Rosemary’s Baby, when she adjusts her son’s blankets and rocks the cradle while smiling, that she is becoming a monster herself, but looking deeper into it, what she’s really doing is realizing she has a chance to overthrow the patriarchy by planting her heels firmly in the ground and being the mother to her son.
Something to keep in mind when comparing two similar films, nothing is too simple to be open to discussion. For instance, during Rosemary’s Baby, she has the dream where she is raped by a demonic presence in front of her husband (and others). When she wakes, she has scratches on her body, the same as Mia in Annabelle. The scratches could be perceived as physical or metaphorical for how both women are meant to be passive and docile, both in life, and in the bedroom (this ties back into the rape during Rosemary’s Baby).
It was my original intention to see if I could overlap the timelines of Rosemary’s Baby and Annabelle and argue that the demon still wanted a mother, therefore it could have been reincarnated into Annabelle… However, Annabelle takes place 4 years after Rosemary’s Baby, so that theory took a swift exit out the window. But there’s no reason to argue that the reverse couldn’t be true? Stay with me:
Rosemary succeeded in “overthrowing the patriarchy” and eventually murders her demon-child. The child’s demonic presence enters Annabelle Higgins during a seance held by her cult, where the demon-child seeks vengeance and persuades Annabelle to murder her parents, Sharon and Pete. As Annabelle is killed by police, her blood drips into the Annabelle doll’s eye and possesses the doll. The doll/demon-child wants a second shot at being alive with a mother, and terrorizes Mia to sacrifice either herself or the baby. And just when there is a glimmer of hope, Mia’s friend Evelyn sacrifices herself (for the “greater good”, see? It’s coming back around!) and jumps to her death with the Annabelle doll, thus alleviating all of the need for a pure sacrifice… Until we see the women telling Ed and Lorraine Warren their experience with the Annabelle doll in The Conjuring.