The Conjuring Universe has been credited with rejuvenating the horror genre, but not all of the movies are equal. The Conjuring Universe started with director James Wan and the first movie in the series, The Conjuring, which was released in 2013. Most of the movies in the franchise, including The Conjuring, are connected in some way to the paranormal case files of the demonologist couple, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga).
The first movie was met with positive reviews and was considered a financial success for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. What followed was Annabelle, a spinoff which built off the world created in The Conjuring by diving into another of the Warrens' most well-known cases, the Annabelle doll. Another box office success for the franchise came in the 2016 sequel to The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, which is set six years after its predecessor.
The success and popularity of The Conjuring movies, led James Wan, Warner Bros., and New Line Cinema to build not just a franchise, but a shared universe of horror movies. Warner Bros. released two more Annabelle movies to create a trilogy, explore the origin of the Annabelle doll, and tell a story about what happened after it was acquired by the Warrens. Other spinoffs, such as The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona, have also been released. In total, it's grossed nearly $2 billion at the worldwide box office, making The Conjuring Universe WB's most successful cinematic universe. Here's every Conjuring movie and spinoff, ranked from worst to best.
7. The Curse of La Llorona
Director by Michael Chaves and produced by James Wan, The Curse of La Llorona was not marketed as being part of The Conjuring Universe, but its connection to the franchise was confirmed by the inclusion of Tony Amendola's Father Perez from Annabelle and a direct reference to the Annabelle doll.
The 2019 movie centers on a social worker who worries for the lives of her children after they become the targets of a ghost who drowns children. While the art direction and creepy design for the titular ghost certainly help the film live up to the expectations of a movie in The Conjuring Universe, The Curse of La Llorona still has a few problems. The jump scares lose their effectiveness by the second half of the film. Also, the story, which involves a folktale legend that tuns out to be a real ghost, is almost too much of a stereotypical ghost movie plot. That being said, The Curse of La Llorona still manages to provide an enjoyable viewing experience.
6. Annabelle Comes Home
The most recent movie in The Conjuring Universe takes place in the Warrens' home. Chaos ensues when a friend of the Warrens' babysitter unwittingly unleashes all of the haunted artifacts in the Warrens' vault. The third movie in the Annabelle trilogy contains plenty of thrills and scary moments as the three female leads struggle to survive through just one night at the Warrens' house. The movie is also supported by a good story and well-developed characters. Unfortunately, like too many Hollywood horror movies, the plot of Annabelle Comes Home is driven by dumb decision-making by one of the main characters, which in this case is Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), who lets Annabelle out of her case.
5. The Nun
Although 2018's The Nun fits into The Conjuring Universe, it is the most unconventional movie among them. Unlike the others, which are generally set in haunted houses, The Nun takes viewers to a monastery in 1950s Romania where a priest, a nun, and a villager come into contact with the wicked Valak, the villain of The Conjuring 2. The dark, gothic atmosphere helps to convey a deep sense of terror as Sister Irene and Father Burke look into the disturbances at the monastery. The Nun has several horrifying scenes involving Valak and great performances from the two lead actors, Demian Bichir (Father Burke) and Taissa Farmiga (Sister Irene), which nearly make up for the movie's thin, predictable plot. Despite its flaws, The Nun is still one of the scariest movies of 2018.
4. Annabelle: Creation
While Annabelle provided an origin story for the creepy doll, the next installment, Annabelle: Creation, goes back even further in the Annabelle doll's history and reveals that Annabelle wasn't actually the beginning of the story after all. The movie chronicles the story of several orphaned girls. One believes that an innocent ghost haunts their new home, but a twist reveals that a demon is behind the supernatural occurrences in the house.
The main character's inability to walk helps to create a particularly strong feeling of terror throughout the movie, as it makes the character's struggle to escape the demon even more urgent, and at times, impossible. Annabelle: Creation, which is possibly the darkest movie in the trilogy, delivers enough shocks to serve as a more than satisfying prequel to Annabelle.
In the first The Conjuring spinoff, Annabelle, a young married couple have no idea what they're getting into when they bring the Annabelle doll into their home. Following the formula of The Conjuring, Annabelle starts with family drama between the two main characters and slowly builds up to the action. There's enough room between the biggest jump scares in the movie for each one to be effective and scary in their own right.
Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, and Tony Amendola all give stand-out performances in what is easily one of The Conjuring Universe's best stories. Wallis perfect channels a mother's fear for the life of her infant daughter, and Alfre Woodard's haunting portrayal of a woman who wants to find her purpose after her daughter's death makes Annabelle a truly memorable film that's about so much more than a demonically possessed doll.
2. The Conjuring
Set in 1971, The Conjuring explored one of the case files of the famed demonologist couple Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). The movie saw the Warrens investigate a family whose Rhode Island home was affected by a witch's curse. Wan infused the period piece with a frightening mood and a chilling story about a haunted house. The movie's connection to a real-life event adds to the impact it has on the audience.
James Wan's The Conjuring uses his now signature style of filmmaking, helping to make it it one of the most influential horror films of the decade. Long, handheld shots are able to put the audience in the perspective of the main characters, which makes the events of the film feel even more real. Wan's approach to The Conjuring perfectly captures the dread that the characters are feeling in the film's scariest scenes.
1. The Conjuring 2
The Conjuring 2, which is based on the supposedly true story of the Enfield poltergeist, has the rare distinction of being one of the few films that can top the first installment in a franchise. In The Conjuring 2, Ed and Lorraine Warren return to help a young girl in England who's being possessed by a demon. The movie takes a deep, revealing look at the people surrounding the case, their motivations, and their reactions to the Enfield haunting with strong, heartfelt performances from nearly every member of the main cast.
When it comes to the movie's horror elements, The Conjuring 2 kicks it up a notch with the introduction of the Nun, a demon that featured the franchise's creepiest monster design to date. Though the Nun is a big part of The Conjuring 2's best moments, some of the film's creepiest scenes involve the ghost of an elderly man named Bill Wilkins. Where the movie really shines though, is how these scares are created. Long tracking shots, a dark and chillingly quiet atmosphere, and brilliantly framed camera angles makes The Conjuring 2 stand out as the best movie in series.
- The Conjuring 3 (2020) release date: Sep 11, 2020