The Conjuring franchise began with a relatively humble start in 2013 with their first film. Starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as their own utterly lovable version of famed demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, the first film was a massive hit.
Since the original Conjuring film, there have been several other installments that followed in the footsteps of its success. The Conjuring franchise has grown significantly since 2013 and shows no signs of winding down any time soon.
It's worth noting that since the first Conjuring film, the quality of these paranormal movies has decreased. A true indicator of this is the films' Rotten Tomatoes scores, that allude to the fact that the Conjuring crew might just need to step up their game a little if they want to be regarded as a respectable horror franchise.
7 THE NUN (2018) - 26%
The Nun hit theatres in September of 2018. It was one of the most anticipated movies of the entire Conjuring franchise, but it ended up being the biggest disappointment. Many aspects of this film appeared promising when the creators first began marketing it. The fact that it starred Taissa Farmiga - American Horror Story star and Vera Farmiga's (Lorraine Warren) little sister - excited many fans.
In previous Conjuring films, Valak the nun was portrayed as an obscure, absolutely horrifying entity. The ambiguity that surrounded Valak is what made the creature so interesting and unsettling, and The Nun served to throw all of that eeriness out the window by featuring Valak so much that the demon became nothing more than a cheap gimmick by the end of the film. Here's the critics' consensus: "The Nun boasts strong performances, spooky atmospherics, and a couple decent set-pieces, but its sins include inconsistent logic and narrative slackness".
6 ANNABELLE (2014) - 29%
Sitting just a little bit higher on the Tomatometer than The Nun, Annabelle was another huge disappointment in The Conjuring series. Annabelle the doll was heavily hyped in the first Conjuring movie - despite the plot having little to do with her - and inevitably, an Annabelle-centric movie hit theatres a year later.
Annabelle was set in modern times and followed the stories of two completely random, rather one-dimensional characters. Annabelle flopped and completely deserved it, being one of the laziest installments to the franchise. Its critical consensus is as follows: "Annabelle borrows unabashedly from better horror films, content to leave viewers with a string of cheap jolts that fail to build on the far more effective The Conjuring."
5 THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019) - 30%
Being one of the most unique and different films to join the Conjuring universe, most fans didn't know what to expect from this Mexican folklore-inspired horror movie. La Llorona managed to rake in respectable box office success - like any Conjuring movie - but it completely flopped in the critical reception department.
The film was primarily criticized for the same reasons that so many other Conjuring movies are criticized: cheap jumpscares, no subtlety, and a lot of heavy-handed writing and directing. Here's its critical consensus: "Content to coast on jump scares rather than tap into its story's creepy potential, The Curse of La Llorona arrives in theaters already broken."
4 ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019) - 69%
Annabelle Comes Home was just recently released in theatres, so there's a good chance that its Rotten Tomatoes score will change a little in the future, but the official critical consensus on the site is this: "Fun for fans even if it isn't as frightening as some of its predecessors, Annabelle Comes Home suggests there's still some life left in the Conjuring franchise".
This is a decently positive statement, as the Conjuring franchise was looking pretty bad after the failures of The Nun and La Llorona.
3 ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017) 70%
The second installment of the Annabelle film series, and the fourth film of the Conjuring franchise, Annabelle: Creation was notably better done that its predecessor, Annabelle. The critics' consensus for Annabelle: Creation was, "Annabelle: Creation adds another strong chapter to the Conjuring franchise - and offers further proof that freaky-looking dolls remain reliably terrifying".
The decent praise for the film is understandable, as it redeemed the whole Annabelle storyline from the disastrous first movie.
2 THE CONJURING 2 (2016) - 80%
The Conjuring 2 featured the true stars of the entire franchise, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as their lovable versions Ed and Lorraine Warren. These two were the focal point of this film, and that's largely why it was so successful and refreshing after fans had to sit through Annabelle.
The critics' consensus for this sequel is: "The Conjuring 2 can't help but lose a bit of its predecessor's chilly sting through familiarity, but what remains is still a superior ghost story told with spine-tingling skill."
Among fans of the franchise, The Conjuring 2 is widely considered the best film of the franchise. The first film is certainly worthy of its high-score, but the sequel featured the compelling story of the Hodgsen family. The Conjuring 2 also took some time to flesh out the endearing relationship between Ed and Lorraine, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson definitely shine while portraying that dynamic.
1 THE CONJURING (2013) - 85%
The very first film that started it all holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes score out of any other Conjuring movie to date. Beloved for getting this huge franchise off to a spine-tingling start, The Conjuring is an unforgettable film and a cult classic.
The critics' consensus is as follows: "Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares".
It's arguable that there isn't a lot that sets The Conjuring apart from other supernatural horror films, but this movie was hyped up substantially when it first hit theatres. Perhaps promoting The Conjuring as if it was the scariest movie of the decade, evoked nostalgia from fans of films like The Exorcist, which was promoted in a similar manner.