Like the Insidious and Saw franchises before it, director co-creator James Wan has made an iconic horror series from The Conjuring. What began as the chronicles of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators that assisted in purging residences of vengeful spirits, blossomed into several sequels, each involving some of the most memorable demonic figures in cinema history. James Wan's deft blend of atmospheric cinematography, well-written characters, and use of practical effects for his explosive jump scares made the series feel less tired than other horror franchises.
The Conjuring featured some extremely frightening moments involving ghosts and demonic possession, while Annabelle and its two sequels focused on the murder spree of a cursed doll. The Nun worked as a prequel to the Conjuring franchise, and showed audiences one of the most malevolent entities to ever make us leave a light on while we slept. Read on if you dare to find out the 10 scariest moments from the Conjuring franchise.
10 THE LAUNDRY DEMON
Though this scene might have dissipated in its fear factor by the time The Conjuring was released, due to often being featured in the trailers ahead of the film's premier, it still manages to create true terror by its placement early on in it. No one expects anything sinister to occur when Lorraine Warren is doing something so mundane as laundry.
But that's exactly what happens when she goes to pull sheets off the line when a storm begins outside. Suddenly one of the sheets whips off the line and forms around the shape of a figure standing in front of her, before being carried off with the wind.
9 BATHSHEBA ON THE WARDROBE
The Conjuring often carried typical horror movie scares to their natural conclusion, but it also subverted them by not giving the audience the payoff in the way it's expecting. When there's a peculiar noise coming from the wardrobe and one of the children goes to investigate, viewers expected a vengeful spirit to launch out from inside.
The wardrobe is investigated thoroughly, and the camera pans all around, drawing back as the door is closed. Viewers also expected perhaps the spirit would appear when the door was shut, but no such payout occurs. Then the camera suddenly pans up, and Bathsheba is shrieking from on top of the wardrobe.
8 WHEN THE NUN APPEARED OUT OF THE PAINTING
One of the most iconic horror icons to emerge in the last decade, The Nun demon made her appearance in The Conjuring 2 and proved to be the most formidable dark spirit the Warrens had ever faced. It only took one extremely frightening scene to cement her legacy.
Lorraine Warren is trapped in the study of her house, where her husband often paints. The painting he made of The Nun, recalled from a dream of his, hangs on the wall. With exceptional camera work, the shadows make it look like the she's standing right in front of Lorraine. The scene toys with the is she, isn't she really there until the last, nail biting moment.
7 THE OLD MAN BY THE TV
While The Nun was one of the scariest spirits in The Conjuring 2, there was another prominent ghost that generated a significant amount of jump scares. We first learn of his presence when he begins playing with the television, changing channels at random intervals, and stealing the remote.
When Janet begins to suspect she may not be the only person in her living room, she ventures closer to the television to give it a few knocks. The screen goes black, and we see an old man in the battered brown chair sitting behind her. After that, Janet experiences one of the film's most successful jump scares.
6 THE BASEMENT SCENE
Basements are universally creepy no matter if they feature in a horror film or not. In The Conjuring 2, they're especially creepy when they're half filled with stagnant water. Did we mention possibly inhabited by demons lurking beneath the surface?
When Ed Warren has to venture down into the basement after a recent attack on Janet by the demonic presence, he's completely unaware there's something waiting for him. Several long, nerve wracking moments go by before Janet's mother has to scream at him to turn around before it's too late. Too bad it's ultimate victim isn't him...
5 THE CORPSE OF ESTHER MULLINS
The Conjuring series relies a lot on practical effects to achieve its best scares. Actors in costumes, wigs, and prosthetics are at the center of bringing the dangerous ghosts and demons to life. Nowhere is this on greater display than in Annabelle: Creation, the sixth film in the franchise.
When Linda is trying to use the dumbwaiter in the house to escape a possessed Janice, she ends up down in the basement. It's there that she uncovers the crumpled top half of Esther Mullins' corpse. The bloodied torso comes alive and crawls towards her, the terrific work of a stunt actress born without legs.
4 THE GHOST GIRL AND THE DOOR
One of the most effective ways to make something terrifying is to have it launch itself directly at you. Whether it's Pennywise in the water-filled basement scuttling supernaturally fast towards Billy in IT, or Valak attacking Sister Irene in The Nun, it's heightened by the fact that the camera angle is over the shoulder of the victim.
One of the best uses of this method comes in Annabelle, the first spin-off film featuring the cursed doll introduced in The Conjuring. Mia is moving around the house with all the lights on, when suddenly from behind a door across the hall the ghost of a girl appears, who turns and sprints towards her.
3 THE TRUCK SCENE
The seventh installment in The Conjuring franchise, Annabelle Comes Home, returns paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to the series, last seen in The Conjuring 2 but absent for The Nun, and the two Annabelle sequels as those films were all technically prequels.
One of the most frightening scenes in the film occurs when Ed and Lorraine have the cursed doll in the backseat of their car, when suddenly they start having mechanical problems. Ed pops the hood, and as he closes it, Lorraine sees he's surrounded by dead spirits, one of which suddenly shoves him right in front of an oncoming truck.
2 THE CEMETERY SCENE
The terror in The Nun begins almost immediately, but it's the sequence about a third of the way through the film that really amps up the scares. Father Burke has been awakened from sleep while staying at the convent, and follows the sound of a child's footsteps outside into the cemetery.
There, supernatural forces play tricks on him, and he encounters a possessed boy with a serpent exploding from his mouth. He's pushed into a coffin and buried alive, but is able to ring a bell on a string above the grave to alert Sister Irene of his location. Unfortunately the spirits ring all the bells, making it difficult for her to locate him just as he discovers he's not alone in his coffin...
1 THE FINAL SHOWDOWN WITH VALAK
The Nun, even as the third film in The Conjuring franchise, managed to take a prominent villain in the series and render them mysterious enough to create an origin story around. While there are jump scares worthy of its predecessors throughout its brisk running time, it's the final showdown between Sister Irene and The Nun herself that is the most terrifying.
Deep beneath the convent Sister Irene has discovered the demon Valak's point of origin. She ventures to the resurrection chamber, now filled with water, and is attacked by a spirit. She watches in horror as The Nun rises slowly from the depths of the water and then, as the camera holds Irene's perspective, The Nun hurtles towards the audience like a shot.