With ten films released and planned, the Conjuring presents us with a complex universe of characters and stories set across several decades. Naturally, the question arises as to the best viewing order of the Conjuring movies. To dive in from the first film released and work through the films in release order, or whether it would be better to start from the beginning in time and work through the Conjuring movies in order chronologically?
In this post, we guide you through the Conjuring universe and the Conjuring timeline both chronologically and in release-date order, to help you decide best viewing order of the Conjuring movies.
The creation of cinematic universes is not a new concept, and is perhaps most famously seen with Marvel, whose stories unfold, overlap and intertwine across a number of movies. James Wan, responsible for the ‘Saw’ series and ‘Insidious’ did the same with ‘The Conjuring’ after it became a massive success in theaters. It is little known that such a horror series even exists and I thought it is time to introduce all movies of the Conjuring Universe.
At the time of writing, seven movies have been almost released and three are on the way. The number of movies making up this Conjuring Universe can be intimidating at first, but it’s nowhere the 20+ movies you have to watch if it were for Marvel’s movies! You may fear that you have to watch all the movies to make some sense out of them, but it isn’t a necessity. I started with ‘The Conjuring’ myself without knowing the connection to the ‘Anabelle’ movies at first, and it didn’t hinder the horror to take its place.
The Conjuring Timeline in Release Date Order
First, I’ll have to tell you, that you can view the Conjuring movies in the timeline they got released by the studio. This may not be the perfect chronological order, but it does make sense in the regard that you have to view the movies without knowing the whole backstory.
Personally, I like this trait in a series, when I have to put piece by piece together until I come to a conclusion myself. Of course, the last piece usually explains a lot and in this case, the movie that creates the most aha moments is ‘The Nun’.
So, in the event you want to see the series by release date order, which I recommend, here is the list.
The Conjuring timeline in order of release date
- The Conjuring (2013)
- Anabelle (2014)
- The Conjuring 2 (2016)
- Anabelle Creation (2017)
- The Nun (2018)
- The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
- Anabelle Comes Home (2019)
- The Conjuring 3 (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) (2021)
- The Crooked Man (TBC)
- The Nun 2 (TBC)
The Conjuring Timeline in Chronological Order
Then there is the option to view the whole Conjuring Universe in the respective right chronological order of the Conjuring movies. I will list the year when the movies take place and reveal some spoilers on the way.
This is the point at which I will explain why things are happening, and if you don’t want to find out from a post, you should stop reading and just concentrate on the dates. After working through the movies in chronological order, you could then view the movies in the above-suggested release order of the Conjuring movies and come back later on, to put away any holes you may have. All you need to do is, bookmark this page.
SPOILER ALERT. Please stop reading here if you don’t want to hear any spoilers.
This movie takes place in Romania at the Cârța Monastery, beginning with Valak the demonic nun. Valak is a demon from hell summoned by a dark priest. This demonic presence is age-old, going back to the dark ages before anything existed. In mythology, Valak is referred to as “The Grand President of Hell”. Like Thanos for the Marvel Universe, here Valak is the big evil and this is the story of how he emerged. The Nun will show you who’s responsible for summoning not only Valak into the world, but demons in general. This is a major piece of the series, which will make it clearer to you why things are happening. For more, check out my full review of The Nun here.
As the title says, this is the sequel which explains how Annabelle became the evil doll we know. The story begins in 1943 by introducing us to the Mullins, who have a daughter, Bee (Annabelle). Samuel Mullins is a doll maker. After their daughter gets hit by a car and dies, the Mullins get tricked by a demon to put Annabelle’s soul into a doll Samuel Mullins made. It wasn’t Annabelle’s soul that possesses the doll, but the evil itself. From the moment the Mullins find out, they lock the doll in a safe place. Twelve years later, in 1955, the Mullins open up their home to a group of orphan kids and a nun who looks out for the kids. Sister Charlotte had spent some time at the Carta Monastery and even had a photo with Valak on it, without her knowing. The doll manages to escape her prison and takes possession of Janice, one of the orphan kids. Janice ends up in another institution and takes the identity of Annabelle, where after a while she gets adopted by Pete and Sharon Higgins in Southern California.
Twelve years have passed in silence since Annabelle made her first appearance. A young married couple in Santa Monica is the unlucky pair which will deal with her again. John Form gifts his pregnant wife Mia the porcelain Annabelle doll, without knowing its background. Soon, disturbing things happen around them, starting with the death of the Form’s neighbors, Pete and Sharon Higgins. This was the same couple which adopted Janice/Annabelle, and it seems Janice joined a murderous cult and sacrificed her parents by killing them. Janice then enters the Form’s home and transfers her evil soul back to the doll, by killing herself. The Forms seek help and assistance from Father Perez, a pastor who has experience with occult things. After they manage to deny Annabelle from getting Mia’s soul, the doll disappears mysteriously and appears later at an antique shop where she is brought by an older woman who gifts the doll to Debbie, a young student.
Annabelle Comes Home
Prior to the release of Annabelle Comes Home, I had predicted that this film would be set after the Warrens put Annabelle in their antique collection, sometime after 1971. In fact, the film begins in 1968, and then skips ahead one year to 1969. The time setting of this film is very disputed, due to some discontinuity errors in The Conjuring Timeline. In either case, the movie is set sometime between 1968 and 1972. In this instalment, Annabelle is released from her glass cabinet and terrorizes Judy, the daughter of the Warrens, over one night with the help of several other evil entities that Annabelle has summoned.
The Warrens are a couple consisting of a demonologist and a medium, which take on paranormal events. In the prologue (set in 1968), they are introduced by Debbie to the doll Annabelle. She tells them that the doll is possessed by a demon and hands them the doll for safekeeping. They take the doll to Connecticut to add her to their museum of occult artifacts. Then they take on a case to help the Perron family to get rid of some ghosts in their house. They succeed in exorcising the demon Bathsheba and shortly after are tasked for another case in Amityville (yeah, that famous house). This was the first film of the series, so you will not see many hints in this one or even a mention of Valak.
The Curse of La Llorona
With a brief prologue taking us back to 1673 and explaining the origins of La Llorona, the movie is set in 1973 in Los Angeles. We see Father Perez reappear and share his experience battling an evil Annabelle doll. Father Perez would like to give the case of Garcia’s family to the Warren’s but they cannot accept due to being needed elsewhere. So, Father Perez turns to Rafael Olvera. For more, check out my full review of The Curse of La Llorona here.
The Conjuring 2
The prologue of Conjuring 2 briefly explores the Amityville house where Lorraine Warren meets for the first time with Valak during a séance. Then the movie focuses in 1977 in the United Kingdom, where the Hodgson family is attacked by the ghost of Bill Wilkins, the residence’s former tenant. Wilkins doesn’t act on his own but is possessed by Valak who uses him for his purposes. Also, the Crooked Man will appear for the first time, who later on will become a separate sequel. Ed Warren works to protect the Hodgson’s youngest child and after he succeeds, the possessed zoetrope toy will be added to the Warrens’ haunted antique collection. Before that, Lorraine faces her biggest challenge and in the end, beats Valak by telling his name. This seems to be the point in the story where Valak gets fully defeated, making place for another evil in The Conjuring series.
The Conjuring 3 (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It)
In The Devil Made Me Do It, Ed and Lorraine Warren participate in an investigation of the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who was charged with manslaughter in 1981. Johnson’s defense maintained that he was possessed by a demon that led him to commit the crime. With Arne on trial, the Warrens figure out the origins of the demon that possessed Arne. For more, check out my synopsis and the trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It here.
Upcoming in The Conjuring timeline
At the time of writing, the following films are still waiting to be released:
- The Crooked Man
- The Nun 2
I hope you’ve learnt something new from this introduction to the Conjuring timeline and best viewing order of the Conjuring movies, and feel ready to dive in. Let me know your thoughts. The Conjuring timeline could in future be more complex with overlapping events. I will try to update it accordingly with any new information in place.
This post was originally written on April 21, 2019 2:41pm, and updated in August 2021.