It's no secret that the Warner Bros. blockbuster Aquaman has strong ties to one of cinema's biggest horror franchises. Director James Wan, who brought Arthur to box office gold, helmed the first two films in The Conjuring series, and has produced all of its spinoffs. The other major link is, of course, actor Patrick Wilson, who plays antagonist King Orm in Aquaman and protagonist Ed Warren in The Conjuring films. But we now know there's another connection between the properties that runs much deeper -- to the ocean's floor.
Posting on Reddit, a sharp-eyed viewer spotted an Easter egg in Aquaman that even the biggest Conjuring fans may have missed. At the center of the screenshot, which focuses on all of the man-made waste scattered across the ocean floor to emphasize the film's environmental message, sits a very familiar, creepy doll. You might have to squint, but yes -- Annabelle is officially in the King of Atlantis' domain.
Based on a real said-to-be haunted toy, Annabelle is one of the most evil entities in the Warrens' collection of supernatural curiosities. Naturally, fans have been eagerly trying to unravel what this might mean. Does the DCEU now include The Conjuring universe? How did the evil doll end up at the bottom of the sea? Is King Orm working a secret surface-world job as an exorcist? (No wonder he was so stressed out all the time...)
Of course, the most likely -- but least fun -- explanation is that Wan simply couldn't resist sneaking a cheeky reference into his other billion-dollar franchise. Who knows if similar shout-outs to his other greatest hits like Fast & Furious 7, Saw and the Insidious series are also lurking in the CGI deep, waiting to be found.
A more overt callback to Wan's horror roots in Aquaman comes when Arthur and Mera travel to the Trench's domain. Set at night, the sequence on the ocean's surface where our hero and heroine's boat is overwhelmed by the wild creatures looks like something out of a nautical-themed Resident Evil movie, a stark contrast to the bright and bombastic nature of the rest of the film. Wan has talked about his dream of directing a "horror version of Batman" in the past, and this unexpectedly dark moment in Aquaman just serves to further whet our appetites to see what that would look like.
For now, we'll just have to wait and see if Black Manta will form an unholy alliance with Annabelle in Aquaman 2.