Ten years ago this year, The Conjuring hit theaters and unexpectedly launched one of the most successful horror franchises in cinema history. A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Friday the 13th franchises may have more movies, but The Conjuring Universe’s eight films to date have earned $2.1 billion worldwide. That’s why there’s no stopping this franchise any time soon.
The most recent film in The Conjuring Universe was The Life IIwhich is still haunting theaters before its inevitable streaming debut on Max later this year. Since we’re celebrating horror films this month on DT, we’ve decided to revisit all of The Conjuring Universe horror movies and rank them from worst to first.
8. The Nun (2018)
Table of Contents
It’s easy to see why The Nun became the second spinoff from The Conjuring movies. When Bonnie Aarons is in full makeup as the demonic Nun, Valak, she’s really terrifying. Unfortunately, the first film just doesn’t live up to that dynamic visual. The story is set in 1952 as Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of two nuns at the hands of Valak.
During the film, Irene befriends Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a character who takes on greater importance in the sequel and in The Conjuring 2. Strangely enough, this movie felt like it was only trying to set up the later as opposed to its own sequel.
Watch The Nun on Max.
7. Annabelle (2014)
Here’s where things get a little convoluted. Annabelle is the first spinoff movie from The Conjuringand the second movie overall. It’s also a pretty steep drop-off in quality from the first one, but it does provide an origin story for the killer doll. Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Form (Ward Horton) witness the murder of their neighbors, Pete (Brian Howe) and Sharon Higgins (Kerry O’Malley), by occultists who attack them as well.
The female occultist in the attack kills herself in Mia and John’s home while holding a previously ordinary porcelain doll. But when Mia gives birth to her daughter, Leah, the Forms discover that they too have been targeted by this cult. And there’s a demon in that doll.
Watch Annabelle on Max.
6. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the most recent non-spinoff in The Conjuring Universe, and it kind of feels like it’s run out of steam compared to the two movies that came before it. The script is very loosely inspired by true events as Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) attempt to save a young boy, Dave Glatzel (The Haunting of Hill House‘s Julian Hilliard), from demonic possession.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), the boyfriend of David’s older sister, Debbie Glatzel (Sarah Catherine Hook), offers his body to the demon to spare David’s life. This turns out to be a spectacularly bad idea (don’t they show these kids The Exorcist?!), as the demon possesses Arne and uses him to commit murder. And if the Warrens aren’t careful, even they may fall to the occult curse that was placed on the Glatzel family.
Watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It on Max.
5. The Life II (2023)
To be honest, The Life II is pretty superfluous and didn’t actually need to happen to fill out any backstory after the first movie. If anything, the story of how the Nun reappears in The Conjuring 2 is now even more convoluted after the events of The Life II. But admittedly, this is a better movie than its predecessor, thanks in large part to the introduction of Storm Reid as Sister Debra, a young novice who is having trouble keeping her faith.
Several years after The NunSister Irene is traumatized and intentionally isolated from the world. But when Valak resurfaces in pursuit of a powerful religious artifact, Irene and Debra are sent to put an end to her evil once and for all.
Rent or buy The Life II on Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube, and Apple TV+.
4. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Despite the fact that Annabelle had already told the origin of the killer doll, Annabelle Creation adds another origin on top of that, which takes a while to get things to the point where they make sense. The reason why Annabelle Creation is better than its predecessor is that the doll seems far more demonic and threatening this time.
The film follows a young orphan named Janice (Talitha Bateman), who is taken in alongside other orphaned kids by Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia) and Esther Mullins (Miranda Otto), both of whom are mourning their late daughter Annabelle. Although disabled by polio, Janice is drawn into Annabelle’s bedroom where she meets the cursed doll that will change the course of her life.
Watch Annabelle: Creation on Max.
3. Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
Annabelle Comes Home plays more like the third Conjuring movie rather than just another spinoff. That’s because Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as Lorraine and Ed Warren, even though they aren’t the focus of this film. Instead, the main character is their daughter, Judy Warren, as played by Ghostbusters: Afterlife standout Mckenna Grace.
The Warrens safely locked away the demonic doll, Annabelle, only for Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife), the friend of their daughter’s babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), to release Annabelle from her confinement. Daniela’s actions also allow Annabelle to set free other supernatural threats that the Warrens had defeated, leaving Judy and Mary to handle them on their own.
Watch Annabelle Come Home on Max.
2. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
If you’re wondering why the Nun got her own spinoff movie, it’s because she was such a great villain in The Conjuring 2. Early in this film, Lorraine first catches a glimpse of the demonic Nun, and she also sees a vision of Ed’s violent death which greatly disturbs her.
Months later, the Warrens are called in to see if Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) is truly possessed. And Lorraine warns Ed that he could die if he accompanies her on this investigation. However, the Warrens soon discover that there’s more to Janet’s possession than they initially suspected.
Watch The Conjuring 2 on Fubo.
1. The Conjuring (2013)
Do you know why The Conjuring remains the best movie in the entire franchise? It’s because this film wasn’t trying to create spinoffs or sequels. Much like the original Saw (which was also directed by James Wan), The Conjuring tells a largely self-contained story. After a brief introduction to the cursed doll, Annabelle, this movie actually starts with the Warrens investigating the case that inspired The Amityville Horror movies decades later.
Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) move into their new home with their daughters, Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and April (Kyla Deaver). To their collective horror, they soon discover that the house is plagued by an evil spirit that won’t stop tormenting them. When Ed and Lorraine Warren start their investigation, they also find themselves attacked by the spirit even in their own home.
Watch The Conjuring on Max.