David F. Sandberg was initially reluctant to direct the film, due to his general dislike of horror sequels. He changed his mind when it was clear he would be making a standalone prequel, with no major obligations to connect it to the larger franchise beyond a few brief references to the other films.
The design of the framework around the front door of the farmhouse shows regular crosses and upside down crosses, which may symbolize how there's both holy influence and dark forces at war in the home.
The woman who played the adult Annabelle Higgins is usually a stunt woman and has been a stunt for Vera Farmiga in the other Conjuring films. She also played the adult Annabelle Higgins in the first Annabelle film.
The doll that Janice, who now calls herself Annabelle, is given at the end of the movie is a replica of Raggedy Ann doll the Warren's removed during an exorcism. For the movie, a creepy looking porcelain doll was used to appear more sinister. This real doll is still kept on display, at Lorraine Warren's home, and can be seen in photos and footage of the Warren home.