It’s spooky season, so I am back with another ranking post! Today we are delving deep into The Conjuring universe. There are currently eight films in this franchise, so I wanted to share my personal list from least to most favourite movie. If you want to order my t-shirt pictured below, you can find it here. I feel that this saga offers a range of horror sub-genres to its viewers. You’ve got dolls, haunted houses, possession, folklore and more; all tying together in one way or another. Also, if you didn’t know, a lot of these stories were based on real-life events. Ed and Lorraine Warren worked as actual paranormal investigators and their occult museum still exists in Connecticut, with Annabelle just chilling out in a glass case. I love this series and hope it continues in the future. Be warned, big spoilers ahead. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
8.) The Nun
In last place, we have The Nun. Ironically, this is the first film in the franchise…if you want to watch them chronologically. This story occurs in 1952, Romania. After two nuns are attacked in a monastery by an unseen force, the Vatican sends Father Burke and nun in training, Sister Irene (played by Taissa Farmiga – the real life sibling of Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren) to find out what is going on. When the pair arrive at the abbey, they learn about a demon named Valak, that has taken on the form of a nun. It murders the Abbess and other residents, until Father Burke and Sister Irene perform a ritual to banish it back to hell. Twenty years later, Ed and Lorraine present footage at a university seminar of their attempt to exorcise Frenchie/Maurice, a villager who assisted Father Burke and Sister Irene back in Romania. It is obvious by the ending that Sister Irene and Father Burke were unsuccessful in vanquishing it the first time. In my opinion, this is the weakest film in the series. It had such potential but the jump scares were lame and it felt very disconnected from everything else. I was really underwhelmed. It only received a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been deemed the worst installment in The Conjuring universe. There is apparently a sequel in the works, which I’m not keen for.
7.) The Curse of La Llorona
In second last place, we have The Curse of La Llorona. If you’re unsure how this film ties into the franchise, I’ll tell you. Father Perez, whom we first meet in Annabelle, is also present in this movie. He assists our protagonist, Anna (played by Linda Cardellini), with undoing the curse bestowed upon her family. That is the only connection I’m aware of. This story focuses on the Latin American folktale of The Weeping Woman, who drowned her own children and now roams the earth as a ghost, seeking more boys and girls to bring to the afterlife. If you hear her crying, run! The evil entity, known as La Llorona, sets her sights upon Anna’s kids and it’s up to her to keep them safe. I will say, the scares in this movie are really effective. I particularly love the bath scene. However, it did fall a little bit flat for me. There wasn’t that much of a storyline and compared to the rest of the movies coming up, it didn’t quite hit the mark.
6.) The Conjuring 2
Here is where my list gets controversial. In sixth place, we have The Conjuring 2. I know this is a lot of people’s highest rated film in the franchise, but I had a few issues with it. In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, arrive at Enfield, London to investigate the possession of Janet Hodgson, a young girl and the second-oldest of four children. It turns out, her body had become host to Bill Wilkins, an elderly man who had previously lived and died in their house. A year earlier, Lorraine experienced a vision of Ed dying, which makes her hesitant about helping Janet, in case her premonition becomes reality. In a further twist of events, the spirit of Wilkins is merely a pawn for a much more sinister entity: Valak from The Nun. We witness flashbacks of Valak haunting Lorraine in her own home and revealing its true name to her. At the climax of the movie, Ed is almost killed the way Lorraine had envisioned, but she’s able to stop Valak and successfully banish it to hell. I felt like this movie tried a little too hard to be like The Exorcist. When Bill pops up and yells “my house” to Janet, I burst out laughing. It didn’t seem threatening at all. It was also a bit slow at times. The best parts involved Valak. It’s a bit sad that I preferred seeing the Nun more in the Conjuring sequel, than its own dedicated film. There are rumours that a Crooked Man installment is currently in production. This refers to the cursed object owned by the youngest Hodgson child. It ends up securing a place in the Warren’s home, beside Annabelle.
5.) Annabelle Comes Home
Now we are getting to the good stuff! If you didn’t know, haunted dolls/toys are one of my favourite horror sub-genres. I recommended some of the best ones here. As I’m biased towards these types of movies, it makes sense that the Annabelle installments are higher on my list. As the title suggests, Ed and Lorraine Warren bring Annabelle home after confiscating her from two nurses who reported it for paranormal activity. They secure her in a glass case to ensure the evil is contained. Some time later, a new babysitter named Mary Ellen arrives to take care of their daughter Judy. She is tasked with spending the night, as the Warrens need to travel for a job. However, when Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela, shows up uninvited, things start to go wrong. Daniela sneaks into the artifacts room where Annabelle is being kept and unlocks her glass case. Needless to say, terror ensues and with no parents around, the three girls must survive all of the deadly spirits Annabelle unleashes on them. It’s actually terrifying. There is an occult object in this movie that made it such a winner for me. It’s a television that predicts the future in just a few seconds. For example, you look into the screen and see yourself jumping in fear. A moment later, something attacks. I loved this concept and found it a very effective scare tactic. Huge, huge fan of this movie.
4.) The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It
Once again, this may be a controversial opinion but I actually loved The Conjuring 3. I saw it at the cinemas, so that may have helped, but even so, the filming in this movie is ridiculously good. In 1981, Ed and Lorraine Warren document the exorcism of 8-year-old, David Glatzel. During the ritual, Arne Johnson, the boyfriend of David’s sister, invites the devil to possess him instead. Ed witnesses this transference and suffers a heart attack. A month later, he wakes up in the hospital and tells Lorraine the demon is now inside Arne. Under the influence of the evil controlling him, Arne murders his landlord. With the support of the Warrens, his case becomes the first American murder trial to claim demonic possession as a defense. This legal suit really happened. It’s up to the married couple to investigate the curse that tried to claim David and let Arne walk free. The visuals in this film are exquisite. From the opening scene paying homage to the original Exorcist, to Lorraine’s vision in the woods, to the battle against Isla in the tunnels, I was blown away. There was plenty of action which kept me entertained the entire way through. Plus, who doesn’t love the water bed scene? It’s also nice to see how in love Ed and Lorraine were. They were spooky couple goals! Sadly, the real-life versions passed away a few years ago.
3.) Annabelle Creation
Top three my friends! Once again, as this title suggests, we get to witness the origin of Annabelle. In the 1950’s, a doll-maker named Sam Mullins and his wife Esther, grieve the loss of their seven-year-old daughter Annabelle, who dies when she accidentally steps in front of a car. Twelve years later, the Mullins family open their home to provide shelter to Sister Charlotte and six girls, left homeless by the closing of their orphanage. Despite being warned to avoid Annabelle’s former room, one of the orphans, Janice, opens her closet, where she sees an eerie porcelain doll. This act releases a powerful demon that begins to terrorise the girls. The movie ends with Janice’s possession. She relocates to an orphanage in Santa Monica and begins to call herself Annabelle. Twelve years later, now an adult, she joins a Satanic cult and murders her adoptive parents, which ties into the original Annabelle movie. This installment is downright chilling. The atmosphere feels oppressive, much like the desert air surrounding the home. I was watching it through splayed fingers. Don’t listen to anybody who says we didn’t need this prequel!
2.) The Conjuring
In second place, we have the film that started it all: The Conjuring. I remember when this came out, people were saying it was one of the scariest things they had ever seen. I would have to agree. In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron, move into a farmhouse on Rhode Island with their five daughters. Paranormal events begin to occur immediately. When the girls are attacked in their bedroom by a spirit, Carolyn contacts demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their investigation reveals that the house once belonged to an accused witch named Bathsheba Sherman. Further research shows numerous reports of murders and suicides throughout the years, since the house was built on the property. When Bathsheba possesses Carolyn, the Warrens decide to perform the exorcism themselves, as they were denied approval from the church. They are successful and the demon is banished to hell. There are some really unique scares in this installment that are refreshing. It definitely has a James Wan feel, which makes it extra special. You have the clapping scene, Bathsheba perched on top of the wardrobe, the clothes-line scene and more. Also, this is based on true events. The Perron family were real, as was Bathsheba. They claimed the spirit was actually tormenting them. Spooky!
Are we shocked this movie is in first place? No, we’re not. This is the very first Conjuring spin-off and it was so successful, more of them were made. As learned from Annabelle Creation, Janice becomes possessed as a young girl and joins a Satanic cult under the name Annabelle. In 1967, Dr. John Form presents his pregnant wife Mia with a rare, vintage porcelain doll as a gift for their first child, which she places in the nursery. That night, Annabelle murders her adoptive parents, who live next door to the Forms and hides in Mia and John’s home. When the police find her, she slits her throat whilst holding the doll, thus transferring her spirit into it. Not long afterwards, deadly paranormal activity begins to occur. Mia gives birth to baby Leah and it becomes clear that Annabelle wants to claim both their souls. Father Perez, from The Curse of La Llorona, tries to take the doll to Ed and Lorraine Warren, but is attacked by the evil entity and hospitalised. A noble sacrifice is made and the doll disappears. The movie ends with it being sold to an antique store. Six months later, it’s bought as a gift for a nursing student, who ends up handing it over to the Warrens in Annabelle Comes Home. I’m just obsessed with this movie from start to finish. I love the scene where young Janice runs at the door and morphs into her adult version. I’m also still haunted by the basement scene. It has one of the most effective scares in horror film history. You keep waiting for something to appear and the fact that it doesn’t, makes it even more terrifying than if it did. It’s the best.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you agree or disagree with my list? How would you rank the movies? Thank you so much for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo