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Every Conjuring Universe Movie Ranked Worst To Best

When James Wan's "The Conjuring" was released in 2013, the film became an instant hit, with many critics praising the film for its creative yet familiar take on the classic demonic subgenre of horror films. Based on the real-life hauntings documented by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the series follows a set of interconnected stories of demonic possessions and hauntings. Three years after "The Conjuring," a sequel titled "The Conjuring 2" hit theaters and was met with similarly positive praise, reinforcing audience's desire for films in the genre.

There's been another sequel since then, as well as various spin-offs based on other supernatural entities, which have helped flesh out the franchise. Though the films have been met with mixed reviews ranging from positive to incredibly negative, the franchise has earned over $1.4 billion worldwide. But with over half a dozen films released in the series so far and more to come in the near future, how do they all stack up? Are all possessions created equal, or are some spirits more pernicious than others? This is the definitive list of which movies in the Conjuring Universe are a blessing, and which ones require an all-out exorcism. 


While the first "Conjuring" film is often warmly regarded by horror fans, the prequel that followed in 2014 is not. "Annabelle" made a respectable $257 million worldwide, but reactions to the film were far from kind. One look at the movie's Rotten Tomatoes scores shows that filmgoers and critics alike were less than pleased with the possessed doll and her antics. Based on the Annabelle doll first seen in "The Conjuring," this spin-off focuses on a couple welcoming their first child. Unfortunately, the new parents are terrorized by a possessed doll that seems intent on taking the mother's soul. 

What sets "Annabelle" apart from other entries in the Conjuring Universe is just how stale and uneventful the overall film feels. Throughout most of the film, Annabelle hardly moves or really even bothers the couple who owns her. Outside of some shots of Annabelle looking intimidating or being positioned ominously in a room, there isn't really much to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. 

Not only is the film's antagonist a bore, the human characters completely lack any personality, which makes it difficult to emphasize or even remotely care about what happens to the small family. The concept of a killer doll isn't exactly new, and with so many better entries into the genre to choose from, "Annabelle" is completely forgettable. 

The Nun

"The Nun" stands out from other entries in the Conjuring Universe due to its haunting, Gothic set design. This, in conjunction with the period costumes, makes "The Nun" the most visually interesting entry in the franchise. However, a nicely constructed set and some interesting costumes aren't enough to make a film function, and it's safe to say viewers weren't impressed overall. 

In the year 1952, a group of nuns living in a Romanian monastery discover that bombings from World War II have reopened a spiritual rift that once was sealed to keep demons from entering into the world. The film follows a novitiate who is determined to find the root of the evil now emanating from the monastery and banish a spirit that has taken the form of an undead nun.

Packed with a handful of boring, one-note characters, plenty of lazy dialogue, and a deluge of forgettable jump scares, "The Nun" manages to feel completely flat and devoid of creative substance, despite having some stylistic flare. 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" follows Ed and Lorraine as they handle what could be their toughest case to date. This time, they are trying to save a young man named Arne. He accidentally invited a demon into his body when the investigators were performing an exorcism on his younger brother.

Set in 1981, the third "Conjuring" movie takes the Warrens on a convoluted journey that involves dangerous totems and a curse rooted in the occult. In their efforts to help Arne, the Warrens learn that there is much more lurking beneath the surface of this possession. They also help make history by supporting Arne in a landmark trial after he kills his landlord. Using demonic possession as his defense, the young man only serves five years for manslaughter.

While "The Devil Made Me Do It" isn't the worst movie in the franchise, it also isn't the best. It ups the ante, particularly for Lorraine, but it relies too heavily on tired jump scares. The demon is one of the least impactful and isn't very memorable. Had the occultist been utilized better, this entry may have placed higher on the list.

The Nun II

If you thought you'd seen the last of Valak, you were wrong. "The Nun II" picks up just four years after the events of "The Nun," following Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) in Italy. She now leads a simpler life after her last encounter with the demon, but that peace is interrupted when she's asked to investigate some unusual deaths taking place across the continent.

What follows is a story that gives more insight into the demon that includes missing eyes, killing the descendants of the saint that took them, and a delivery boy turned puppet. As Sister Irene dives further into history in her attempts to send Valak back to hell for good, she also learns more about her own ancestry and the power of a mother's love.

Though "The Nun" didn't fare well with audiences or critics, "The Nun II" is a sequel that improves on the mistakes of its predecessor. Valak is given true motives this time around, rather than just being a scary presence, and one of the other nuns is given a subplot that is topical in today's social climate. While the movie is ultimately an improvement from the first, and is better than recent films in this universe, it is still a middle-of-the-road entry.

Annabelle Comes Home

"Annabelle Comes Home" serves as another prequel to the events of the first "Conjuring" filmAfter Ed and Lorraine Warren come into possession of the cursed Annabelle doll, the couple safely lock the possessed plaything away. Protected by a glass case and shielded from the outside world, it looks like all is well, and the Warrens have saved the world from another cursed artifact.

Of course, one slip up is all it takes for Annabelle to cause havoc. When the Warrens' daughter Judy is left in the care of Mary Ellen, the family's teenage babysitter, the haunted doll seizes on the opportunity. Shortly after Mary Ellen arrives, her friend Daniela makes an unplanned appearance. Daniela is curious about the supernatural and wants to find a way to communicate with her dead father — so much so that she trespasses into the Warrens' locked artifact room and accidentally releases Annabelle. Now free to terrorize as she pleases, Annabelle sets free a slew of angry spirits from the couple's collection of cursed objects, turning the once peaceful Warren home into a demonic house of horrors. 

While "Annabelle Comes Home" isn't the worst film in the Conjuring Universe, it is definitely one of the most boring. You would think a cast of wacky demons running wild would result in some creative scares, but most of the film is just a slow build-up for one poorly executed jump-scare after another. With a few exceptions, the demons aren't noteworthy enough to make them stand out from the more interesting cast of unholy spirits we've seen in previous films. 

The Conjuring 2

After audiences and critics alike showed their distaste for "Annabelle," the team behind "The Conjuring" knew that they would have to clean up their act for the next film in the series. To this day, "The Conjuring 2" is still one of the best received entries in the series, but it nonetheless feels a little like the creative team tried and failed to recapture lightning in a bottle with this sequel.

In the end, "The Conjuring 2" feels like it was made with the intention of setting up an expanded universe instead of creating a complete, self-contained story, especially considering the spin-offs that followed soon afterward. Aside from the crowded roster of spirits, the primary demon gives its name to Lorraine in the beginning of the movie, which is the key to defeating it in the end, making the resolution feel not only rushed, but unearned. 

Despite these gripes, "The Conjuring 2" is still a worthy successor to the first film, making use of interesting camera work, slow build-ups, and the sort of creepy imagery that fans of the franchise have come to expect.

Annabelle: Creation

Compare its critical response to that of its much-maligned predecessor, and it's obvious that "Annabelle: Creation" is a massive improvement. Featuring a cast of likable characters, lots of creepy build-up, and tense pacing, "Annabelle: Creation" reaffirms that the Conjuring Universe is still a prime place to experience the paranormal frights that horror fans crave.

As a prequel to the first "Annabelle" film, "Annabelle: Creation" shows the origin of the demonic doll. The film opens with a couple mourning the loss of their young daughter, Annabelle, nicknamed "Bee." The grieving parents are willing to make any bargain just to spend more time with her, and when a spirit begins making itself known in their house, they think they may have gotten their wish. But Bee isn't the same upon her return, and they soon realize that they've invited a demon to reside in their daughter's doll. To repent for their actions, the two take in a group of girls from an orphanage. Unfortunately for them, Annabelle wants to play. 

The film features competent acting from the cast of child actors and decent writing to support them as well. Though some of the scares end up falling flat, there are some genuinely visceral visuals that help drive home the sadistic nature of the demon. There is a unique balance in "Annabelle: Creation" between highlighting the emotional punishment endured by the possessed and the physical punishment doled out by the sadistic spirit, letting the two complement each other and build in anxiety-inducing ways. 

The Conjuring

The first entry in the franchise is also the best entry, and critics and fans agree. Because there was no pre-existing film universe to explain things to audiences, "The Conjuring" had to be particularly paced. Instead of being thrown into the paranormal with little explanation, the characters are forced to do research, set up and monitor equipment, and work with local police just to get enough proof to have an exorcism approved. As a result of all the added legwork, not only does "The Conjuring" feel more believable and accessible for audiences, but the frightening pay-offs feel earned. 

The chief marker of this film's quality is the building of atmosphere. This is demonstrated particularly well through how reserved and understated some of the scares are in the film. The musical score is allowed to be soft and to serve as a background to scares, instead of the blaring, bass-heavy blasts that punctuate jump cues in later movies. Additionally, the minimal CGI used throughout the film is also done with precision, demonstrating the common adage — particularly true in horror — that "less is more."