The year of the living dolls continues. Just one week after the release of Toy Story 4 and Child's Play, yet another toy-come-to-life story hits theaters with Annabelle Comes Home. The film is the third in the Annabelle series, but when does Annabelle Comes Home take place? The answer isn't so straight-forward given the way the films of the Conjuring Universe — and specifically the two previous Annabelle films — have jumped around the timeline. But by going over the Conjuring movies in chronological order, one can get a better idea of just where this newest tale of horror fits in the franchise.
In addition to Annabelle Comes Home and other upcoming installments, the Conjuring Universe consists of six films: The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, The Nun, and The Curse of La Llorona. The Conjuring was, of course, the first to be released in theaters, but it is far from the first chronologically. That distinction goes to The Nun, which takes place in 1952 and offers an origin story for the horrifying nun specter first seen in The Conjuring 2. Following The Nun chronologically is Annabelle: Creation. This film was released after Annabelle but acts as a prequel, taking place in 1955 and revealing the origins of the titular haunted doll. Twelve years after the events of this film is where Annabelle slots in, taking place in 1967. This movie then directly leads into Annabelle's first on-screen appearance at the start of The Conjuring.
The prologue of The Conjuring takes place in 1968, and in it, Ed and Lorraine Warren encounter Annabelle for the first time. However, the bulk of The Conjuring's plot takes place in 1971 and deals with the Warrens' investigation of the Perron family's haunted house in Rhode Island — not Annabelle. And it's in this interim period between The Conjuring's prologue and main plot when Annabelle Comes Home takes place. Therefore, the new film acts not only as a sequel to Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and the prologue of The Conjuring, but also as a prequel to the main plot of The Conjuring. Got that?
The new movie's plot sees the Warrens taking Annabelle into their home — hence the title — where they lock her up in their room of haunted artifacts under a spiritually-blessed glass case. But when the Warrens leave their young daughter alone with a pair of teenage babysitters, the doll decides to cause some trouble once again by using its demonic powers to take control of other haunted spirits in the Warren home in the hopes of stealing the young Warren's soul. It's also worth noting that the film's trailer opens with "Mama Told Me Not to Come" by Three Dog Night, a song which was released in 1970, which is right about the time the film should take place.
Annabelle Comes Home helps to fill in a gap in the Conjuring Universe timeline, cluing fans in to a previously-unknown story. So now that you know when it takes place, the only question is whether the movie's events will change the way you look at the film's that come after it in the timeline, like the original Conjuring. That would be a very Annabelle thing to do, after all.