by JD Phillips
The Conjuring universe has proven to be not only one of the most successful horror franchises but also one of the best-shared movie universes. There’s a third Conjuring on the way with a third Annabelle and a Crooked man spinoff following after, but before they arrive, here’s my definitive ranking of the series thus far:
5. Annabelle (2014)
The first of the Conjuring sequels proved to be the most generic. It featured a few good scares but the unoriginal characters and plot keep it from being as memorable as the others in the franchise. Ultimately, it was a nice history lesson about everyone’s favorite demonically possessed doll, but not much else.
4. The Nun (2018)
The most recent film in the series offers by far the fewest scares. It trades in most of modern cinema’s horror tropes for old-school Dracula style ambiance. The movie may as well been filmed in black and white for all the graveyard and castle hijinks that go on. It also features great performances from Demián Bichir and Taissa Farmiga that elevate it beyond the mediocre throwback horror movie it could’ve been.
3. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
The second Conjuring movie proves to be almost as terrifying as the original. It has great set pieces, another solid plot, and another round of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s great chemistry. It doesn’t quite ever reach the heights of the original, however, as the oversized family haunting by a creepy old lady ghost-demon feels all too familiar way too early in the franchise. Hopefully, the third film in the series branches out a little more to provide more of the spine-tingling scares the original had in spades.
The crooked man also just didn’t work for me. He just seemed like some weird creepypasta creation that was supposed to be featured in a different movie that never got made so they threw him in this for shits and giggles. Go home, Crooks, you ain’t no Babadook!
2. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
I don’t think I’ve ever been as surprised by a horror movie as I have been by this Annabelle sequel. In the months leading up to its release, I had no intention of spending my money on another thoughtless cash grab like the original. The strangely positive reviews convinced me to give it a shot, but I was still skeptical. Much like every cop in a Conjuring movie, my skepticism was proved wrong when the scares started coming in. I attribute this almost entirely to the hiring of David F. Sandberg who was fresh off the heels of the feature adaptation of his short film Lights Out (2013/16). His horror skills matched with a solid plot and some impressive child actors made this trip to the Mullins’ house much more memorable than it had any right to be. Here’s to hoping the third outing can keep the momentum.
1. The Conjuring (2013)
Is anyone surprised? There was a time when I really hated horror movies. High school friends would gather around a tv to whatever half-baked horror movie was fresh at blockbuster (yep, I’m old) and I would just sit there, bored by the cheap thrills and the cheaper plot. Then I saw The Conjuring and that all changed. As a relative newbie to the genre, I’d never seen a horror movie that had complex themes and interesting characters before. Most of my experiences with the genre were things like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel or some Rob Zombie remake. James Wan turned me on to how artful and theatrical these movies could be. It led to me finding more amazing horror films like The Exorcist (1973) and It (1990) later that year. This is the film that will always be responsible for my intense horror fandom and I’ll always love it for that.
Also, it’s damn scary. Like I watched it this week and I knew that witch was gonna be on the wardrobe, I was prepared this time, and I still screamed. Seriously though, maybe take a tour of a house first to make sure it isn’t filled with a bunch of haunted crap before you move your sixty daughters in there. More seriously, buy condoms, Roger. You drive a truck for a living. Kids are expensive.
R.I.P. Sadie. You were a good dog. They just wouldn’t listen.