'Annabelle Comes Home' Director Gary Dauberman On Exposing His Kid To Horror And The Fate Of 'Swamp Thing' [Interview]

Gary Dauberman has become a key figure in the horror world, and particularly the Conjuring Universe having written all three Annabelle films and The Nun, plus the two-part Stephen King adaptation It. He makes his directorial debut with the third Annabelle spin-off, Annabelle Comes Home.Taking place immediately after the first Conjuring film, the new movie finds Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) bringing the cursed Annabelle doll to their private Artifact Room. While they're out for the night, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) babysits for Judy Warren (McKenna Grace). Mary Ellen's friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) sneaks into the Artifact Room and opens Annabelle's case. Things don't go well.We just spoke with Dauberman a month ago for the DC Universe premiere of Swamp Thing. Just to show how quickly things can change in Hollywood, Swamp Thing was cancelled shortly thereafter with many stories emerging about why. Dauberman spoke about that, as well as his adaptation of Salem's Lot. Annabelle Comes Home is in theaters this Friday.If Annabelle is a conduit for spirits, who have been the different spirits attaching to her in the different movies?She's a beacon for different supernatural activities but she works in a myriad of different ways. In Creation, she plays on the girls' fears in different ways. The demon assumes different forms of supernatural entities in order to scare the girls and weaken them and possess one. In the first Annabelle it's definitely more traditional type of supernatural occurrences. In this one, we played on the idea of her power almost like a battery that charges up the Artifact Room and makes everything come to life. These things that lay dormant in the Artifact Room, but once she's released from the case, it sparks everything back to "life."Have you pitched Feeley Meeley to Milton Bradley yet?[Laughs] No, I have not pitched Feeley Meeley but it felt like something we all have in our houses at one point in time. I thought it would be cool to find some sort of board game also that we can play with and it's an actual game.When the Warrens left for the night, were they by any chance leaving for The Conjuring 3?Oh, really cool idea, but no. That happens later after this movie.Did you get your pick of some of the classic Warren Files that could pop up in Annabelle Comes Home?Yeah, I always go back to the source where all this stemmed from, this entire universe and that is the Warrens' Files and the books they've written over the years, which I encourage everyone to pick up and read because there's a lot of great stuff in there. It is an embarrassment of riches when you go back there and look at things. Maybe the entire file is not something but maybe there's a scare within there that I can use as a seed for something else. I'll pull from different sources and sometimes that inspires another story I want to tell. Fortunately, their daughter Judy and Tony, her husband, are so generous with their time and their knowledge of all the events, so it's a lot of fun talking to them what it was like for Judy's parents to go through all this stuff, and how it affected her as a child.McKenna is great. Was Sterling Jerins, the actor who played Judy in The Conjuring, in her '20s now so was it necessary to recast her?I don't know how old the original Judy is in the first one but she is much older than the Judy in this movie. I think the first Conjuring takes place '70/'71. This is a year later after the Perrons so we needed to recast somebody else. McKenna Grace was such a joy to work with and such a professional and a huge enormous talent and just a great collaborator, so it was necessary to replace and I was very, very fortunate and very, very happy that I found McKenna.Was the Swamp Thing comic book prominently displayed in the grocery store intentional?Yup, that was my little shout out for Swamp Thing. I'm glad you picked up on that. Just DC in general because I grew up on DC, and Marvel, but I always read the DC stuff first. I'm glad you picked up on thatDo you inherit a sound team, lighting crew and cinematographers from the Conjuring Universe who give these films a consistent look and tone?Yes. I worked with lots of people on the other movies. That's why it felt right to step up and direct this one because I have a lot of shorthand with these people and they're so good at what they do. That just felt like a huge advantage to have that going into it, knowing how great everybody is at their job. They're all at the top of their game. It's not for it to have a uniform look across the movies. We work with these people because they're great at what they do and we enjoy working with them first and foremost.Was the footage of Ed performing an exorcism also new footage you shot for Annabelle Comes Home?I shot that with Patrick on a day, and Vera. We traveled across the backlot and found a dark, dingy basement like dwelling and put the guy on a chair, and shot it on 16mm which was really cool. We shot it for this movie.Was it intentional that Bob (Michael Cimino) literally hides with the chickens?Yes. I remember writing, "chicken chicken chicken Bob" so it was definitely intentional.There was an Oliver Dauberman in the cast. Is he your son?That is my son. He's at the school and he's the first one who says, "Happy Birthday, Judy" at the birthday party. He's a huge fan of horror movies and he's at that age where I struggle a lot with I know he's moved beyond the horror movies for kids and seen them. Now what can I challenge him with but not seem like a terrible parent? He's a huge horror fan.The final girl has always been a staple of horror movies. Was it especially empowering to have three young women stand up to the monsters?Yeah, working together, I think it was. I really like that. I didn't want them all to be incapacitated so it was nice that they work together to sort of vanquish the evil, and Judy picking up the mantle of her parents. When I say the mantle, of course I mean the crucifix. That, to me, just felt a little different to me rather than one of them just has to save the day I like that they all work together. They all unite together and do it. That was something that felt important. Since we spoke last month for Swamp Thing the story came out that misfiled paperwork cost you the tax credit in North Carolina. Was that something that couldn't just refiled?Oh, I think they've come out and said that wasn't the issue.Oh, then there's been more developments since I last read up on it. I don't know how much of that was part of the decision or not. I don't quite know how the decision was informed. Obviously, I was crushed to hear it. I was really proud of that show. I hope people are still watching it. They should still watch it because there's a lot of special stuff in the later episodes. I hope people are enjoying it and really digging it. That's what we wanted. I think we did the comic proud and the cast and crew really knocked it out of the park. It's unfortunate that happened but at the same time, I feel really fortunate I was able to help bring Swamp Thing to the small screen and I hope be true to the spirit of the book.Is there a chance to shop it around to other streaming services or networks?I don't know. That stuff is so beyond me. I don't know. I wish I had an answer for you but I don't really know how all that stuff works because I know the rights are complicated and all that. I would hope so, but who knows.As you adapt Salem's Lot, is it any easier than the massive tome of It?I wouldn't say it's easier but in It, there's a lot of ground to cover. In Salem's Lot you have a little less ground to cover. It's hard to compare the two. They're both challenging because both the books are so great, you know you have to edit some stuff out and take some stuff out. On Salem's I'm having to do less of that but it's just been a really rewarding experience working on that, and working with vampires, man. I've never done that and I think it's time we make them scary. Salem's Lot to me is terrifying so I'm really excited to bring it to the big screen.