By Devan Coggan
July 14, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT
Credit: Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

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Horror fans first met everyone’s favorite demented doll with pigtails in 2013’s The Conjuring, and since then, Annabelle has gone on to star in her own 2014 standalone movie. Now, the prequel Annabelle: Creation is investigating her origins, and — unsurprisingly — they’re not exactly tea parties and rainbows.

Creation centers on a couple in the mid-1950s (Anthony Lapaglia and Miranda Otto) who turn their rural farmhouse into a girls’ orphanage. It isn’t long, however, before their late daughter’s doll Annabelle starts wreaking havoc, and director David F. Sandberg (who helmed last year’s horror hit Lights Out) says he wanted to take advantage of the film’s eerie, isolated setting.

“First of all, it’s great when you can make a horror movie and there are no cell phones,” he says. “But I just like the idea. Period movies, for some reason, just feel more ripe for horror movies. Lights Out was all shot on location, but this time, we shot on a soundstage at Warner Bros., and we were able to build this entire house and design it just the way we wanted it — this old farmhouse that was sort of dilapidated and sort of worn down.”

As for Annabelle herself? She’s just as creepy as ever — even when the camera’s aren’t rolling.

“There were journalists interviewing me in my office when we were working on this, and they had to cover up the Annabelle doll that was sitting there because they were freaking out,” Sandberg says with a laugh. “And the same thing now, we have [an Annabelle] doll at our house that we have to hide away because people freak out when they see her.”

Annabelle: Creation will hit theaters Aug. 11.

Annabelle: Creation

  • Movie
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  • David F. Sandberg