Given that The Conjuring debuted in 2013 to rave reviews and box office success, it's no surprise that it launched into a juggernaut franchise. Loosely based on the real accounts of supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the horror series has spawned three mainline Conjuring movies, plus a trilogy of Annabelle spin-offs and a handful of other connected films. The titles range dramatically in quality, but each of them provides solid scares and sheds light on a new corner of its chilling interconnected universe. Now, ahead of The Nun 2, here's EW's ranking of The Conjuring movies.
8. <i>Annabelle</i> (2014)
The franchise's first spin-off was its second movie overall, released just over a year after the original Conjuring. The film explores an early chapter in the saga of the titular haunted toy and stars Annabelle Wallis as a pregnant housewife and doll collector. Although it has a few solid elements — a charismatic priest and a cult murderer, in particular — the pacing is too slow and its scares are too few and far between to leave much of an impact. If that's not enough, the film has essentially been rendered pointless in the grand scheme of the Conjuring universe, as the other Annabelle movies explore the doll's origins and connection to the Warrens in far greater detail, leaving this first installment in an awkward, redundant middle ground.
7. <i>The Nun</i> (2018)
The Conjuring movies have always revolved around family, but The Nun turns the franchise into a real-life family affair, as Taissa Farmiga (younger sibling of series regular Vera Farmiga) leads this prequel/spin-off. The film sees her Sister Victoria travel to a Romanian village to face off against Valak (Bonnie Aarons), a demonic spirit that takes the form of a nun who was previously introduced in The Conjuring 2. Like Annabelle, The Nun features a lot of repetitive padding between scares, but here, the set pieces are significantly more chilling and visually creative. Highlights include a surreal scene in which a man is buried alive and an unforgettable climax involving the literal blood of Christ. There's also a surprising connection to the original Conjuring film at the very end that gives a satisfying sense of cohesion to the whole affair.
6. <i>The Conjuring 2</i> (2016)
The Warrens' second cinematic outing takes them across the Atlantic to investigate a strange possession in London. The sequel features some of the most effective scares of the entire series, as the aforementioned Valak lends itself to some truly terrifying sequences, and the spindly Crooked Man (Javier Botet) and unsettlingly mundane Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian) provide variety to the thrills. But despite director James Wan's strong visual sensibility and mastery of cinematic space, the overall movie feels a little more imbalanced and less tidy than some of the better entries in the series. (There's also a surprising amount of Elvis music in this one — and it's the only Christmas movie in the series thus far.)
5. <i>Annabelle: Creation</i> (2017)
Most of the Conjuring movies feature impressive turns from child actors, but Annabelle: Creation is the first with kids as the primary protagonists, which immediately heightens the tension due to their inherent vulnerability. Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson star as young orphans who are terrorized by a demon in their new haunted home. Bateman in particular delivers a strong, multifaceted performance that allows her to play both hero and villain, embodying a sense of innocence and pure evil at different moments. The sequel is a massive improvement over the previous Annabelle, too, as it delivers far more consistent thrills and actually sheds light on the troubling origins of the haunted doll.
4. <i>The Curse of La Llorona</i> (2019)
Inspired by Latin American folklore, this ghost story follows a caseworker (Linda Cardellini) and her children (Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) as they battle a malevolent spirit in Los Angeles. The movie features a short appearance from Father Perez (Tony Amendola), the priest who plays an important supporting role in the first Annabelle movie. Despite this, however, some of the creators behind The Curse of La Llorona insist that it does not take place in the Conjuring universe. Regardless, the film is a lot of spooky fun, as it's full of energetic, committed performances and plays with creative visual ideas involving reflections and transparency.
3. <i>The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It</i> (2021)
The series' latest installment (and third proper Conjuring title) deserves a lot of credit for trying something totally new: It's essentially a standard mystery/crime procedural with demonic elements on the fringes. In The Devil Made Me Do It, the Warrens believe that a man who stabbed his landlord to death was actually possessed by a demonic force during the incident. To prove his innocence, the pair launches an investigation into the origins of his supposed possession so they can find the person (or spirit) who's truly at fault. The film also has the most emotional, moving arcs for Ed and Lorraine, whose romance is as strong as ever after years of marriage (and eight movies).
2. <i>Annabelle Comes Home</i> (2019)
The third Annabelle movie, Annabelle Comes Home, builds an entire film around one of the most intriguing elements of the entire Conjuring universe: the vault room of cursed and possessed objects in the Warrens' house. Wilson and Farmiga appear at the onset, then hand the reins to their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) as they head out of town. Over the course of a single evening, Judy, her babysitter (Madison Iseman), and their friends (Katie Sarife and Michael Cimino) fend off an army of evil spirits that the Warrens have collected over the years. It's essentially just 100 minutes of awkward teens trying to survive a haunted house with an onslaught of bizarre creatures and ghosts — and the monsters' lack of backstory actually enhances their creepiness. It's well-paced, visually efficient, funny when it should be, and extremely effective when it comes to character work.
1. <i>The Conjuring</i> (2013)
The movie that started it all remains the tightest, scariest, and most creative of the bunch. In their cinematic debut, the Warrens investigate a disturbing possession at a remote family home in Rhode Island. With a constantly roaming camera, director James Wan uses long takes to cleanly establish each space on screen, meanwhile, constant zooms and slight compositional shifts perpetually unsettle the audience. Wilson and Farmiga are immediately transfixing as the intense yet empathetic investigators at the center of the series, while Lili Taylor gives a terrifying, unpredictable performance as the victim of demonic fury.