The Conjuring has gone from strength to strength, quickly spawning a massive franchise that has taken the world by storm. Beginning with 2013’s The Conjuring, the series has spawned seven sequels and spin-offs that form their own universe. With its latest film, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, being released earlier this year, now is the perfect time to dive into the supernatural franchise.
Let’s dive into the best ways to experience this rollercoaster of scares.
What Is The Conjuring Universe About?
While the films within The Conjuring universe all have their own story, they’re linked by a common thread. This thread is Ed and Lorraine Warren, two famous paranormal investigators who became legends due to their investigations into strange and terrifying phenomena. While controversial in many supernatural circles, the duo has written about some of the most famous hauntings in the modern age.
The main film in the franchise follows the Warrens as they travel from case to case, attempting to help people deal with their supernatural problems. The spin-offs focus on other entities the Warrens have encountered or written about. However, while inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren’s casebook, the films deviate massively from their accounts of the events, usually by making the supernatural entities much more overt.
One way to watch the films is in the order they’re released. This would mean you start with 2013’s The Conjuring and then move to 2014’s Annabelle (the first spin-off movie). From there, you return to the core franchise with The Conjuring 2 from 2016 before going back to Annabelle the doll with 2017’s Annabelle: Creation, which is a prequel to the first Annabelle movie. This leads you to The Nun from 2018, another spin-off that focuses on a creature first seen in The Conjuring 2.
Next is The Curse of La Llorona from 2019, which is a film that divides fans with many arguing that it isn’t part of The Conjuring universe. This was followed by Annabelle Comes Home in 2019, which is the third film in the Annabelle sub-series.
Finally, you return to the main continuity for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It from 2021, the latest film in the franchise.
Watching the films in this order does let you see how the filmmakers developed ideas and concepts as time progressed and budgets increased. And it is fascinating to see how the series changes from a horror franchise to a massive cinematic universe. However, it is a disjointed experience, with you as the viewer jumping between time periods, sub-series, and plot lines.
The Conjuring movies are set between 1952 and 1981. As all the films have established dates, you can easily watch the series in chronological order.
This watch order starts you off with The Nun, which is set in 1952. This film follows Father Burke and Sister Irene as they set off to investigate strange happenings at a convent, only to find that the demonic Valak is involved and has taken the form of a demonic nun.
After this, you’ll move to Annabelle: Creation to see the origins of Annabelle. This film is set in several different periods, as the event putting the movie in motion⏤a car crash⏤takes place in 1943. However, the bulk of the film takes place in 1955. The film follows a dollmaker and his wife who, after losing their child, open their home to a nun and several orphans, only to find themselves under attack by Annabelle.
From there, you’ll take a ten-year jump to 1967 to watch Annabelle. This film follows John and Mia Form, a married couple who are expecting a child. However, when their Annabelle doll becomes possessed, they quickly find themselves fighting for their lives.
With the origin films done, you’ll next enter the main series, moving to The Conjuring, set in 1971. This will also be your first introduction to the Warrens, following them as they help a couple who have moved into a haunted house.
After this, you return to the Annabelle subseries for Annabelle Comes Home, which is once again set in several different periods. However, the main plot is set in 1972 and follows the Warrens as they take the doll to their artifacts room, only for it to escape and cause havoc, forcing them to recapture the evil Annabelle.
Then you’ll go to 1973 for the controversial, The Curse of La Llorona. This film follows a mother trying to protect her child from the Weeping Woman, a supernatural entity that seeks to harm them.
The final films in the timeline see us return to the main series, first with The Conjuring 2 in 1977. The Conjuring 2 picks up where the first film ends and sees the Warrens tackling the Amityville House and Enfield Hauntings, two famous real-world hauntings.
The current timeline ends in 1981 with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the newest film. The Warrens once again set out to solve a supernatural mystery with the possession of David Glatzel before moving on to Arne Cheyenne Johnson, another possession case.
This order is a fascinating way to watch The Conjuring films. In many ways, it reframes the movies, focusing on things the Warrens face rather than the Warrens themselves.
However, it isn’t without issues. Several post-credit teasers and references presume you’ve already seen films that came out before the one you’re watching, leading to some confusing moments. This order also illuminates some plotholes, especially near the middle. As Annabelle and The Conjuring were written before the series became an established franchise. So the films were written very differently, as they didn’t need to link to so many different movies and plot threads and thus brush over stuff as they didn’t plan to build on it in a later installment.
The Curse of La Llorona Controversy
Many fans debate if The Curse of La Llorona is actually a part of the Conjuring universe, leading to many fan-made watch orders not including it.
This is because the film doesn’t really link to the other films in the franchise. At first, the film was described as a stand-alone movie, simply called The Children. However, when the first trailers came out, it was revealed that Tony Amendola was reprising his role as Father Perez, the character he played in Annabelle. However, his appearance is brief, and while he references the events of the previous installments, it doesn’t play into the Weeping Woman plot.
So, if you’re looking to streamline your viewing experience, omitting The Curse of La Llorona is likely the best way. However, while its ties to the greater universe are tenuous, the film is an enjoyable horror movie, so it is worth a watch in its own right.