franchise has rejuvenated the paranormal horror genre, with nine movies in total, including sequels and spinoffs.
The spinoffs, such as
, played a significant role in propelling the franchise to its current success, but they
and their sequels struggle to match the original two
movies at certain points.
While some entries in the franchise, like
The Conjuring 2
, are highly praised for their effective horror and storytelling, others, such as
The Curse of La Llorona
, fall short in execution but still provide an enjoyable viewing experience.
From James Wan’s original The Conjuring to The Nun 2, the ConjurVerse has been rejuvenating the paranormal horror genre — though not all entries in the franchise are equal in quality. There have been nine Conjuring movies so far: two direct sequels, three spinoffs, and three spin-off sequels. The first original movie, starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, was a success for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, but it’s the sequels and spinoff movies that truly propelled The Conjuring franchise to the supernatural horror household name it is today.
The ConjurVerse’s first spinoff was 2014’s Annabelle, which fleshed out the cursed Annabelle doll seen in The Conjuring. The Conjuring 2 came next, set six years after its predecessor. This was followed by two more Annabelle movies, The Nun, and The Curse of La Llorona, as well as 2021’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which centered on one of the Warrens’ most sensationalized cases. Before The Conjuring: Last Rites and a Conjuring HBO Max series arrive to expand the franchise, The Nun 2 filled in a certain period within The Conjuring franchise’s constantly evolving timeline. Some of these releases, however, made a bigger impact than others.
9 The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Directed by Michael Chaves and produced by James Wan, The Curse of La Llorona was not marketed as being part of The Conjuring movies. Still, 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. Based on a famous legend of Latin American folklore, the 2019 movie centers on a social worker who worries about the lives of a group of kids after they become the targets of a ghost who drowns children.
While the art direction and creepy design for the titular La Llorona certainly help the film live up to the expectations of a movie in The Conjuring universe, The Curse of La Llorona still struggles to execute its horror effectively. The Curse of La Llorona‘s jumpscares lose steam by the second half and the plot misses its chance to tie its real-life cultural significance into the ConjurVerse’s paranormal tapestry. That said, The Curse of La Llorona still manages to provide an enjoyable viewing experience, and while itmight be the weakest installment in the Conjuring franchise, it’s by no means a bad film.
8 Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
Annabelle Comes Home once more makes use of the creepy items in the Warrens’ occult museum, which is based on an actual room owned by the real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren. In Annabelle Comes Home, chaos ensues when a friend of the Warrens’ babysitter unwittingly unleashes all the haunted artifacts in the 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’ place.
Annabelle Comes Home is supported by a solid narrative and well-developed characters. Unfortunately, like too many Hollywood horror movies, Annabelle Comes Home is driven by the horror genre’s stereotypical “terrible decision-making” trope by one of the main characters. In this case, it is Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) who lets Annabelle out of her case and leads the cast in making the worst possible decisions to carry the plot, hurting its spot as one of the better The Conjuring movies.
7 The Nun (2018)
Although 2018’s The Nun fits into the Conjuring franchise, it is the most unconventional movie in The ConjurVerse. Unlike other installments, which are generally set in haunted houses (save for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), 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 a few years before it haunted the Warrens during the events of The Conjuring 2. Vera Farmiga’s younger sister, Taissa Farmiga, stars as the benevolent nun, Sister Irene, with Demián Bichir as Father Burke and Jonas Bloquet as Frenchie.
The Nun 2‘s gothic atmosphere builds a deep sense of terror as Sister Irene and Father Burke look into the disturbances at the monastery. The Nun also has several horrifying scenes involving Valak and great performances from the lead actors, which nearly make up for the movie’s mostly predictable plot and scares. The Nun presents an exciting twist with a look at the Christian Knights who defeated Valak with the Blood of Christ, only to waste it with a run-of-the-mill conclusion where Valak fails to kill Sister Irene at the very last moment. But despite its flaws, The Nun is still one of the scariest movies of 2018.
6 The Nun 2
The Nun 2 delivers a sequel to The Conjuring’s spinoff prequel. Taking place four years after The Nun, The Nun 2 opens with what might be one of the most brutal kills in The Conjuring franchise. Afterward, The Nun 2 sticks to its predecessors’ tried-and-true horror formula, which allows the movie to spend less time introducing the characters and more time presenting more inspired visuals and more stylized scares than 2018’s The Nun. The subtle nods at Sister Irene’s mystical link to Lorraine Warren provides a fresh twist to the overall franchise, and the brief return of Valak’s The Conjuring 2 jumpscare teases an exciting connection between movies.
However, The Nun 2’s place in the Conjuring franchise and its reliance on the usual formula also plays against the story. Sister Irene defeats Valak the same way as in the previous movie — but instead of the Blood of Christ, she weaponizes Saint Lucy’s eyes. This makes Valak look incompetent and makes the protagonists’ efforts seem useless, as it’s evident that Valak will return as if nothing happened. Frenchie’s possession and subsequent exorcism also becomes repetitive and fails to raise the stakes given that the first The Conjuring movie opens with the Warrens exorcising him, which is bound to happen a few years after The Nun 2’s hopeful ending.
5 Annabelle: Creation (2017)
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. However, distance from the central story of Ed and Lorraine Warren didn’t help the movie, so Annabelle: Creation falls short of the best movie about the titular doll in The Conjuring franchise.
4 Annabelle (2014)
In the first The Conjuring spinoff, Annabelle, a young married couple has 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 the 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 as effective and scary as one of the mainline The Conjuring movies.
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 perfectly 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. It can also take credit for establishing that The Conjuring would be spinning off into a shared universe-style franchise.
3 The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
The third installment of The Conjuring franchise centering on Ed and Lorraine Warren and the eighth in the universe overall, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on another of the Warrens’ case files. The film is different from all the ones that came before it because it isn’t centered on a haunting, but on an occultist whose chaotic ways target three different characters through a curse that leads to devastation. It also highlights the real-life court case of The Conjuring 3‘s Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who was convicted of first-degree manslaughter after stabbing his landlord to death.
The sequel is full of chilling and suspenseful scares and sees the Warrens tackling more than one case at the same time. The Devil Made Me Do It sees a change in directors, with The Curse of La Llorona‘s Michael Chaves taking over from James Wan. However, this creative change doesn’t diminish the film’s quality at all. Rather, it infuses it with new energy and spectacularly terrifying moments that heighten the intensity and elevate the emotional stakes. Beyond the horror aspects, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is also focused on Ed and Lorraine’s deeply loving relationship, making it one of the best Conjuring movies released so far.
2 The Conjuring (2013)
Set in 1971, The Conjuring explored one of the Warrens’ most popular ghost case files: the original The Conjuring sees the Warrens investigate a family whose Rhode Island home was affected by a witch’s curse. Although countless horror movies had already used genre tropes like a haunted house and a cursed doll, director James Wan infused the period piece with a frightening mood and a chilling story with highly effective suspenseful pacing. Of course, The Conjuring‘s connection to a real-life event adds to the impact it has on the audience.
James Wan’s The Conjuring uses the director’s now signature style of horror filmmaking, which has inspired many other horror movies like The Conjuring to replicate its strong points. Long, handheld shots are able to put the audience in the perspective of the main characters, making the events of the film feel even more real. James Wan’s stylistic approach to The Conjuring perfectly captures the dread that the characters are feeling in the film’s scariest scenes, and it encapsulates what makes the first installment in the ConjurVerse one of the most influential horror films of the decade.
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 The Conjuring franchise. In The Conjuring 2, Ed and Lorraine Warren return to help a young girl in England who’s possessed by a demon. The sequel 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 Bonnie Aarons’ Valak a.k.a. 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 make The Conjuring 2 stand out as the best movie in The Conjuringuniverse.