Taking a break from filming a tense scene for Annabelle Comes Home on a Warner Brothers soundstage in Burbank, California, young star McKenna Grace is excited to chat with reporters about a special feature of the horror sequel's production. The Annabelle Comes Home set was blessed by a priest to safeguard it from any nasty paranormal business, and the 12-year-old actor didn't find it strange at all.
"Mr. Father Tom, who was our priest — he was very, very kind and nice and he gave me a rosary that was blessed by the Pope Francis," Grace tells the group of reporters. "He brought holy water and he recited this prayer in the artifact room. And he blessed me and [co-stars] Madison [Inman] and Katie [Sarife] ... It was a really cool experience."
It was also a matter of life imitating art. The trailer for Annabelle Comes Home, the third film in the franchise (out June 28), starts off with The Conjuring's paranormal investigator couple Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) bringing home the possessed toy doll and having a priest bless it behind a sacred glass case in their artifact room. Grace plays Judy Warren, the couple's 10-year-old daughter who becomes Annabelle's next target, along with her babysitters Mary Ellen (Inman) and Daniela (Sarife).
Fortunately, the set blessing seemed to be working. McKenna tells reporters that before the priest's holy blessing, she experienced a profuse nosebleed during one of her first days rehearsing in the Warren's two-story house, which built in the soundstage. "I remember the lights were off because they had to reset something," Grace recalls. "I was like, ‘There’s blood!’ and as soon as I stepped outside to go to the restroom to get a tissue, it stopped. It was creepy."
There were some frighteningly unexplained events that happened during production of the previous Annabelle movies too. In 2014, producer Peter Safran told The Hollywood Reporter that on the set of the first Annabelle film, an entire light fixture fell on a janitor — while in the script, a janitor died in that exact way. Talking about The Conjuring in 2016, Wilson told The Independent that his costar Joey King ended up with real-life mysterious bruises while filming, which mirrored the on-screen bruises of Carolyn Perron (played by Lili Taylor). Because of those events, the sets of the 2017 sequel Annabelle: Creation and the 2016 movie The Conjuring 2 started were blessed by priests, starting a tradition for the Conjuring universe films that continues with Annabelle Comes Home.
But at least one of the supernatural occurrences related to this latest film was more sweet than spooky. During the set visit, Sarife remembers lighting an intention candle for success after she auditioned for the role of Daniela. She wrote her intention on a piece of paper ("Let's book Annabelle," Sarife says), lit it with the candle, and then observed the candle's mysteriously dancing flame. Soon, the candle went out and its wick refused to re-light. "And then the next day I found out I booked it," Sarife says. "Apparently candles will go out if your intention is already done, fulfilled, or you're just not going to get it — which, in my case it worked in my favor. I feel like I was a little creeped out by that, but [it was] awesome."
The supernatural forces around this franchise seem to work in many mysterious ways — both onscreen and off.