Annabelle Comes Home is the third iteration in the Annabelle franchise, which itself is a part of the Conjuring universe. Launched and overseen by James Wan, the universe is something of a miss and hit when it comes to critical reception, but every single movie in this horror universe has been commercially successful.
For example, The Nun earned only a 26 per cent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. But it grossed 365 million dollars on a mere 22 million dollar budget.
This explains why the titular doll is coming to terrify us for the third time. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman, known for his work on the Conjuring universe itself and Stephen King’s It, is making his directorial debut with this horror film.
Here is a ranking of all the Conjuring films:
The Conjuring: The movie that began it all, The Conjuring is still the best film in the franchise. It was based on the supposedly real story of an experience the demonologist couple Ed and Lorraine Warren went through. While they were accomplished paranormal experts, they were not prepared for what happened in Harrisville, Rhode Island. A family – a couple and their five unruly daughters – begin to notice strange occurrences, smells and so on, soon after shifting into a new house. A long-dead Satanic witch was deemed to be the cause of all the trouble and she was exorcised from the lady of the house.
The Conjuring 2: Just like The Conjuring set up Annabelle films, The Conjuring 2 set up The Nun film(s). James Wan returned to direct. A demonic woman dressed as a nun appears to Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) in the beginning of the movie, and shows Lorraine a vision of her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) being impaled by a wooden stake. The Warrens go to help a family in London suburb of Enfield and it is revealed that the Nun was using a spirit inside their house as a pawn. While not as strong as the original, The Conjuring 2 was quite scary, especially towards the end, and featured great performances from Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.
Annabelle: Creation: This was the origin of the demonic doll. In this David S Sandberg directorial, a dollmaker and his wife take in a bunch of homeless girls, but one of them enters the room of their dead daughter, releasing a powerful demon in the form of a porcelain doll. After a lot of chaos, the girl who entered the room is shown to be Annabelle Higgins who murdered her adoptive parents in the first Annabelle’s beginning, thus tying up the two films. This film differed from the prequel in that it relied more on mood and atmosphere than cheap jump scares.
Annabelle: Released just a year after The Conjuring, the John R Leonetti directorial Annabelle did not go back to the beginning (that is, how the doll came to be possessed by the demon) and left that task to the subsequently released prequel, Annabelle: Creation. It instead narrated how the doll was wreaking havoc in every place it was found or discarded, and only a self-sacrifice could beat it, but even then it would just switch places and do its evil stuff somewhere else. The film was full of jump scares and disappointed anybody looking to watch a Conjuring-esque film.
The Curse of La Llorona: The latest addition to the Conjuring universe, the film is based on a Mexican legend about a weeping woman who lost her children, and her sight or proximity is enough to cause misfortune. She now searches for lost children and makes them “her own”, meaning she kills them. Many felt the film did not go much beyond simply a spirit killing children (something The Women in Black had done better) and had a thin storyline and characters.
The Nun: The look of Valak, also known as the Nun, created by make-up and VFX artists was quite scary, but sadly that was the only thing scary about The Nun. It had the problem that most horror films have: a surplus of jump scares and not enough storyline and character work. It remains the weakest film in the Conjuring universe.
Annabelle Comes Home releases on June 26.