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Annabelle: A Paranormal and Culty Analysis

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

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"Since the beginning of civilization, dolls have been beloved by children, cherished by collectors, and used in religious rites as conduits for good and evil."

- "Annabelle"

It's 1967, and Annabelle has been a busy doll since wreaking havoc on the farmhouse where she was created in "Annabelle: Creation." If you've seen "Annabelle: Creation," you already know that the demon that was using the doll as a vessel possessed the young girl, Janice. Janice's possessed self then runs off and gets adopted by a couple whom she tells her name is Annabelle. In the 2014 film "Annabelle," the demon continues its devious ways as it preys on a young family.

Janice…I mean, Annabelle then becomes Annabelle Higgins, a sweet young girl who grows up to become a member of a deadly satanic cult. She and her boyfriend break into the home of her parents and kill them in a bloody mess. The pair then break into the neighbor's house, aka the ones who get to live in terror in this chapter. They try to kill Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and her unborn baby, but the police arrive and shoot the boyfriend. Annabelle, however, has locked herself in the nursery and takes her own life before the police can get to her. We see Annabelle cradling the doll as drops of her blood fall into it, sending the demon back to its vessel.

"Baby, are you sure they're not just manifestations of your own anxiety?"

- John Form

After the initial attack, Mia and her husband, John (Ward Horton), decide to move into an apartment without such awful memories. John tries to rid them of the doll, but in true creepy doll fashion, Annabelle returns. If that isn't weird enough, Mia actually decides to keep the doll and put it in the baby's room.

"The Devil preys on the weak and the vulnerable."

The doll is once again a conduit for the demonic entity, and it isn't long before it starts preying on Mia and the baby Leah while John is at work. Demons have typically been known to prey on the weak and vulnerable. Leah is just an infant and extremely vulnerable. At the same time, Mia is a stressed mother who is home all day with her child, recovering from a traumatic experience, and trying not to spiral while increasingly horrifying things keep happening to her. Her husband doesn't believe her right away, making her feel isolated in her experiences. Mia and Leah are the perfect targets for the entity.

"I did find that their act wasn't devotional - that they were actually trying to conjure something up."

- Detective Clarkin

"Annabelle" explains that the cult Annabelle Higgins joined was a satanic one and that she and her boyfriend were trying to summon a demon. The fiery Satanic Panic fury may be dulled down, but it certainly isn't gone, and it seems an easy jumping-off point for a lot of movies. It explains how a demon was put in the doll again, but the truth is, real cults don't need satanic rituals to be evil. The Rajneeshee bioterror attack and the Jonestown massacre are just a couple of examples of cults that were free of satanic rituals but were still evil incarnate.

The Rajneeshee bioterror attack

In the early 1980s, the small Oregon town of Antelope was slowly taken over by cult members. Members of the cult became involved in the city council, and once they had the majority, they renamed Antelope Rajneesh. Eventually, the cult's leader, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, comprised a plan to take the entire County, claiming that it was for the survival of the community.

The first plan was to rig the votes for the upcoming 1984 county commission election. The Rajneeshes recruited around 5,000 houseless people from various states under the promise of a beautiful place to live. Per Oregon state law, if someone was a resident for at least twenty days, they could vote. The Rajneeshes attempted to get two of their members onto the commission. However, the plan backfired when county authorities refused to recognize the new voters because they felt the Rajneeshes were trying to rig the election.

This rejection caused the group to take even more drastic measures to take over the county. A new plan was created to make the non-Rajneeshes in the county incredibly sick. As a trial run, followers sprayed salmonella in the salad bears of ten local restaurants. As a result, around 700 people got sick. However, once the CDC became involved, the group backed off from poisoning the water.

One follower burned down the County Planning Office in 1985, where documents were said to be held regarding a real estate investigation against the cult. Another follower attempted to assassinate Bhagwan's physician because he believed him to be keeping the cult leader on drugs. There was also a planned assassination attempt on a U.S. attorney who was investigating illegal activity on the group's ranch.

The Jonestown Massacre

Jim Jones opened his church in the 1950s in Indianapolis. In the 1960s, he settled in California with around 100 followers, thinking the new location would be a safe haven in the event of a nuclear holocaust. He began holding services and making friends in high places, and eventually, his following reached thousands. Family members were kept separated, and it wasn't unusual for members to be beaten, brainwashed, or blackmailed into signing everything they owned over to the church.

In 1977 people began to inquire about the reality of the cult, and Jim Jones moved himself and his followers to Guyana, where he'd been building a compound. In November 1978, U.S. congressman Leo Ryan paid a visit to the compound to investigate the rumors that people were being held against their will and forced to endure abuse. When Ryan left the compound, several members tried to leave with him while others attacked him. He escaped unscathed. However, the airstrip he was to depart from was then attacked by members of the cult. Five people, including Ryan, were shot and killed, and eleven people were wounded.

After the shooting, Jim Jones enacted a mass murder-suicide on the compound. A fruit drink laced with cyanide, tranquilizers, and sedatives was given to members. Infants and children took the drink via syringe while adults drank it. Jim Jones died of a gunshot wound. The number of deceased was over 900, with 300 being under the age of 17. Less than 100 people survived.

"The devil is the father of lies. Demons are his manipulators."

- Father Perez

So the Disciples of the Ram may not be a real cult, but we clearly have had enough of those already.

"Ghosts haunt specific places. Usually where something terrible has happened."

- Evelyn

The Annabelle doll is absolutely housing a demon. However, Evelyn tries her best to help under the initial belief that it may be just your average ghost haunting the family. While demons tend to target people experiencing strong emotions and trauma, ghosts and energy can manifest in places that have experienced strong emotions and trauma. These are called mental imprint manifestations.

Mental Imprint Manifestations: An outpouring of mental energy which is absorbed by a place and represents a psychic model of an extreme state of mind. These types of ghosts will repeat the same actions over and over again. Opening and closing doors, walking up and down stairs. There is no consciousness or awareness. These entities tend to be associated with significant times or dates, such as anniversaries of their death or moments of trauma.

"Demons can sometimes use objects as conduits to achieve their desired goal."

- Father Perez

As I mentioned when I analyzed "Annabelle: Creation," According to Catholic expert on religious demonology and exorcisms, Adam Blai, in his book, Hauntings, Possessions, and Exorcisms, only people can be demonically possessed. However, inanimate objects like dolls can be negatively controlled by a curse. The permission of whoever owns the object must be granted in order for a demon to curse it or attach itself and incite chaos.

"No one ever plans to offer their soul."

- Father Perez

The demon is controlling the Annabelle doll and using it as a conduit throughout the film. However, what it really seeks is a soul, which is why it targets the vulnerable Mia and baby Leah in the first place.

While "Annabelle" is probably my least favorite addition to the Conjuring franchise, it successfully left millions terrified of dolls. Of course, that is if they weren't already.

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