"Annabelle" Director John Leonetti
Latin Times had the opportunity to sit down with “Annabelle” director John Leonetti. He talked about the transformation of the doll throughout the movie and the casting of Mia and John Form. Warner Bros Pictures/ New Line Cinema

“She’s a collector’s item. She’s really porcelain and pure but still creepy. Then, basically, as the story moves on, what I did mainly was change her eyes. We dirtied her up. We eventually cracked her chin and matched her to the way she was the beginning of ‘The Conjuring.’ It really was organic to what was happening in the story, and as the story escalated, so did her creepiness,” explained “Annabelle” Director John Leonetti.

Leonetti has a good deal of “visual style” boasted Producer James Wan. He and his producing partner Peter Safran approached Leonetti to direct “The Conjuring” spinoff knowing him well as Leonetti has served as Wan’s longtime director of photography. Leonetti was also the cinematographer on “The Conjuring” as James Wan directed. Safran elaborated on the threesome’s creative process: “John and James have worked together so extensively they really have a mind meld going, and the three of us worked so closely on ‘The Conjuring’ that there’s a certain trust among us as a creative team. They’re tremendous partners in the process.” And, it’s seemed to have paid off.

“The Conjuring” spinoff is already getting great reviews ahead of its premiere weekend. Leonetti who is a self-proclaimed “huge horror fan” was very interested in the evil doll Annabelle’s story, and wanted to create how the doll became cursed. The film follows a young couple who become plagued by evil. John Form gives his pregnant wife Mia a collector’s item doll, but after an attack on their home by cultists, the doll becomes possessed by a demon who wants a human soul.

Part of the journey to create this story was casting the right people. And Leonetti was dead-set on Annabelle Wallis for the leading heroine, Mia. Wallis was even cast before any of the film makers had even met her. “I love stories with female protagonists and Mia in the linchpin of this movie,” he said. Of Wallis, he explained: “There was a point where she just leaned in slightly and I saw her eyes, and that was it.” Safran said, “John had an instinct and said ‘She’s the girl.’ It was clear that she was our Mia.” Leonetti said he has one hope for this movie: “I hope ‘Annabelle’ gets under your skin, then gets in your head, and your soul and your blood. And if your blood starts tingling and the hair on your arms stands up, we’ve done our job.” Spoken like a true horror movie director. “Annabelle” is set to hit theaters Friday.

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