James Wan's groundbreaking 2013 horror film The Conjuring was an unexpected hit, doing exceedingly well critically and financially. Detailing the (supposedly) real-life events that inspired the Amityville Horror legend and film franchise, the story of The Conjuring introduced viewers to the demonologist couple Ed and Lorraine Warren and their numerous supernatural encounters. Seen as being a sort of revitalization of horror, The Conjuring delivered true terror in lieu of the jump scares plaguing the genre.
The Conjuring's success led to a number of sequels and spinoffs taking place in different years and places. With an ever expanding mythology, newcomers and longtime fans might need a reminder of the films so far and where the new movie releasing this week, Annabelle Comes Home, falls in a chronological viewing order.
The Nun (1952)
2018's The Nun is actually the first chronological entry in the series, taking place in a Romanian abbey in 1952. The story explores the origin of a demonic entity known as Valak, who takes the form of a most unholy nun in this movie and Conjuring 2, which takes place much later in the timeline. The ending of the film briefly jumps ahead twenty years, where video footage shown in a classroom establishes events that will lead into the first Conjuring film. Along with establishing elements that would go on to become even more important down the narrative road, the film's Eastern European setting expanded the scope of the The Conjuring Universe's international territory even further than than other movies in other films in the franchise.
Annabelle: Creation (1955)
The prequel to the first Annabelle (itself a prequel to The Conjuring), Creation explains the backstory of how the creepy porcelain doll became imbued with its familiar demonic spirit. The film begins in 1943, highlighting the death of young seven-year old Annabelle, before jumping forward twelve years to 1955 to delve further into the story of a most unruly and restless spirit. The film's ending sets up the events of the first Annabelle, jumping forward another twelve years into 1967. The film delivered an even scarier fare than its successor, further showing the franchise's strength in delivering deeply horrifying stories.
Picking up directly where its prequel left off, 2014's Annabelle takes place in 1967. Its story further shows how the porcelain plaything went from homely doll to hosting a demon. It also explores the final fates of many of the characters from the previous film. Ending six months after its starting point, Annabelle's ending ties into the beginning of The Conjuring. The film also introduces the character of Father Perez, who would show up in a later movie as a sort of narrative connective tissue for the films. Annabelle was put into production soon after the success of both The Conjuring and the instant popularity of the character. This showcased the franchise's ability to quickly develop concepts before spinning them off into their own popular sub-series.
The Conjuring (1971)
Although it kicked off the franchise, The Conjuring occurs fairly late into the universe's established continuity. Taking place in 1971, The Conjuring was not created with the intention of spawning a burgeoning franchise. The movie is integral to the universe and focuses on recurring protagonists Ed and Lorraine Warren. The movie also features a reference to the "Annabelle" case, setting up that aforementioned movie, despite it not having been in production yet.
Annabelle Comes Home (c. 1972)
The newest entry in the franchise, Annabelle Comes Home will take place around a year after The Conjuring, exploring the horrific events that unfolded after the Warrens acquired the titular doll. A lot of details about exactly how this movie connects to others outside of that aren't known at this time. However, as the action primarily takes place at the Warrens' home, there are likely to be a lot of references to previous cases.
The Curse of La Llorona (1973)
Released in 2019, The Curse of La Llorona takes place in 1973, making the film the second most recent installment in the franchise. Although initially marketed as a standalone movie, Annabelle's Father Perez returns, referencing the killer doll and situating the movie squarely in the Conjuring Universe. However, La Llorona's premise and central demonic entity are also the most divorced from the rest of the Conjuring Universe, whose enemies are typically established in other films.
The Conjuring 2 (1977)
The first true sequel to the 2013 franchise progenitor, The Conjuring 2 begins in 1976, following the Warrens as they deal with the aftermath of their investigation of the Amityville case. The film jumps forward a year to 1977 and follows the returned Valak wreaking havoc on an English family in Enfield. As it is so far the furthest in the mainline Conjuring films, the film acts as a sort of narrative climax for many of the established characters and elements introduced in previous movies. The Conjuring 2 also introduces the cursed “Crooked Man” toy; a spinoff film centered on that character is currently in development.
The Conjuring Universe's Future
Besides Annabelle Comes Home, there are still several entries in the Conjuring Universe planned for release. These include The Conjuring 3, the untitled sequel to The Nun and the aforementioned The Crooked Man spinoff. It's not clear where in the timeline some of these films will take place, but Wan has indicated The Conjuring 3 could take place in the 1980s and have a story involving lycanthropy, potentially setting up even more spinoffs.
Written and directed by Gary Dauberman, Annabelle Comes Home stars Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife. The film hits theaters on June 26.