The Conjuring Universe is an American media franchise and Shared Universe centered on a series of supernatural horror films purportedly based on the cases of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. It is produced chiefly by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros.
The franchise was launched with The Conjuring, a 2013 film directed by James Wan (of Saw and Insidious fame). The film's commercial and critical success quickly prompted a sequel and a branch into other interrelated horror films, which are spinoffs exploring the villains of the main Conjuring series, forming a shared universe.
This film universe includes:
- The Conjuring (2013)
- Annabelle (2014)
- The Conjuring 2 (2016)
- Annabelle: Creation (2017)
- The Nun (2018)
- Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
- The Nun II (2023)
- The Conjuring: Last Rites (TBA) note
There are also five short fan films that have been declared canonical. They were selected as the winners of the My Annabelle Creation competition in 2017, and were selected from five different countries.
- The Nurse: Winner of the United States competition. Directed by Julian Terry, it follows a young girl who is hospitalized with bandages wrapped around her eyes. Then someone decides to haunt her. It can be watched here.
- The Confession: Winner of the United Kingdom competition. Directed by Liam Banks, it follows a woman who confesses in a church following a terrifying encounter at her house. It can be watched here.
- What's Wrong With Mom? (¿Qué Tiene Mamá?): Winner of the Mexico competition. Directed by Raúl Bribiesca, it is about a daughter who is praying for her mother to recover from her Demonic Possession. It can be watched here.
- Blund's Lullaby: Winner of the Sweden competition. Directed by Magda Lindblom and Amanda Nilsson, it features the folk character of John Blund, the Scandinavian equivalent of The Sandman, who is said to present colorful umbrellas to good children and black umbrellas to naughty ones. It can be watched here.
- Innocent Souls (Almas Inocentes): Winner of the Colombia competition. Directed by Alejandro López, it is about a group of teenagers who decide to have a sleepover at an abandoned house. It can be watched here.
On April 23, 2021, DC Comics announced that it would create a label specializing in horror comics. The inaugural series is an entry to The Conjuring Universe, The Conjuring: The Lover, which launched on June 4, 2021.
The Curse of La Llorona references this franchise, but has been officially declared not to be an entry.
Tropes present across the franchise:
- 20 Minutes into the Past: All films released so far are set before the dawn of 1990.
- The Conjuring opens in the year 1968, before moving on to 1971, where the majority of the film takes place. However, a retcon to the timeline has merged the two periods together to 1971.
- Annabelle briefly starts in 1971, before shifting to 1970. It stays that way until the very end, which goes back to 1971.
- The Conjuring 2 is entirely set in 1977, although there is an (archive footage) flashback to 1971.
- Annabelle: Creation starts in 1943, before jumping to 1955, the setting for the majority of the film. After the climax, there are two more jumps: the denouement is set in 1958, while the ending is set in 1970.
- The Nun mostly takes place in 1952, but includes archive footage from the previous films that takes place in 1971 and 1977. There are also flashbacks to unspecified times during WWII and the Middle Ages.
- Annabelle Comes Home is set in 1972.
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is set in 1981.
- The Nun II is set in 1956.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: Despite the films claiming to be based on real life, you have to actually believe that there are such things as ghosts and demons. Ed did claim to be a "demonologist" and Lorraine claims to have psychic abilities, but there's no scientific proof that they were ever telling the truth about what they encountered throughout their career. After all, up until the 1970s, they simply claimed to be run of the mill "ghost hunters", but that changed when The Exorcist became a best-selling novel. The Warrens had to one-up this, started calling everything they encountered "demons", and that's how we got The Amityville Horror. Most of the families supposedly affected by demons and ghosts had members severely affected by alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. The Enfield Poltergeist, which the Warrens were never actually as involved in investigating as The Conjuring 2 claims they were (they were even refused entry into the house by the family), was debunked as being the actions of two bored teenage girls who wanted attention. This is even lampshaded in The Conjuring when asked what the Warrens do. Ed says they are "Demonologists, ghost hunters" and Lorraine adds "Kooks."
- Based on a True Story: Unlike most horror movies, this isn't used as a marketing ploy. Ed and Lorraine Warren were real-life paranormal investigators and the films are based on one of their many cases. The Perrons and the Hodgsons are in fact real. This is to the point that a trailer was released in advance of the first film with segments from the real Lorraine Warren and Perron family talking about the events that transpired.
- Battle Couple: Ed and Lorraine are happily married and fight the forces of darkness as a team.
- Breakout Villain:
- Annabelle from The Conjuring only appears a few times and has little relevance to the plot, but is one of the best-remembered parts of the movie. So far, she has gotten three spin-off films of her own.
- Unlike Annabelle, Valak is the main antagonist of The Conjuring 2, but its appearances are scant (since it being the main villain is a big reveal). Nevertheless, it is possibly the thing that gives the audience the most nightmares after watching the film. What's funny is that it was originally not part of the script! Wan created it as a last-minute addition, so all its scenes were shot during post-production. It now has two solo films of its own.
- Christianity is Catholic: To a T. In fact, one gets the impression that the only religions in The Conjuring Universe are good ol' Roman Catholicism and a Hollywoodized and severely demonized Satanism. All major characters in the series are portrayed as observant Catholics and their faith is shown to be always correct. The Roman Catholic Church has authority everywhere, even in areas not under their sway, such as London and, as of The Nun, Transylvania.note
- Creepy Doll: Annabelle might just be the modern Trope Codifier.
- Everything's Better with Samurai: Or worse. One of haunted objects in the Warrens' museum is a samurai armor. You can tell that there's an amazing story behind it for a samurai armor to be in there.
- Fantastic Catholicism: True to the real Warrens, who invoked the trope in their writings.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Bathsheba from The Conjuring is a Satanist, which means that the forces of Darkness, aka Satan itself, is really behind all this. This gets neatly touched upon The Conjuring 2, too, as the film's true Big Bad is Valak, the Great President of Hell and thus Satan's underling according to traditional demonology. Valak is also highly implied to be what Lorraine saw in the first film's flashback that sent her into a long Heroic BSoD.
- Happily Married:
- The Warrens are absolutely devoted to each other, with their love for each other forming the emotional heart of the movies they feature in. Even when they argue, their relationship never wavers.
- Also, the Perrons from The Conjuring and the Forms from Annabelle.
- Historical Beauty Update:
- Jump Scare: Many of the scares. Some of these are actually kind of effective.
- Museum of the Strange and Unusual: The Warrens have turned a room in their house into a collection of cursed objects that people are allowed to tour on the condition that you do not touch anything, especially not Annabelle. This aspect is Truth in Television: You really can take tours of this room in the Warren home, complete with the "real" Annabelle.
- Nothing Is Scarier:
- A lot of the horror in these movies rely on these as opposed to Jump Scares. To put it in context, The Conjuring was slapped with an R rating despite lacking enough violence or language that usually warrants the rating. James Wan was told by the MPAA that the film got an R rating simply because the atmosphere was too frightening for a PG-13 and there was nothing he could trim to lower it. And then, with The Conjuring 2, it happened all over again.
- Both Warren-centric movies feature scenes after the climax where the camera slowly zooms in on a particularly sinister object for as long as minutes, leaving viewers anxious for an upcoming Jump Scare... and nothing happens. Played with at the end of Annabelle: Creation, in which the doll is zoomed in upon for nearly a minute until her head is held profile in the frame... and then her head turns for roughly two frames before the film cuts to black.
- Occult Detective: The Warrens, natch.
- One-Steve Limit: If including the spin-off films, utterly averted.
- Series-wide, there is Carolyn Perron from The Conjuring and Charlotte and Carol both from Annabelle: Creation.
- The Perrons' second daughter, Nancy, shares her name with one of the orphans in Annabelle: Creation.
- Janet Hodgson from The Conjuring 2 and Janice from Annabelle: Creation. They are the main character of their respective films. Also, Jane(t) is the feminine equivalent of John. John Form is the protagonist's husband from Annabelle, while Johnny Hodgson is Janet's younger brother. The Nun introduces Oana, whose name is the Romanian equivalent of Johanna.
- Maurice Theriault (one of the Warrens' exorcism patients from The Conjuring, although his role is minor) and Maurice Grosse (a psychologist who assists the Warrens in The Conjuring 2). The former Maurice's role is elevated as of The Nun, however.
- The Conjuring II features three characters named Peggy: a mother and daughter, and their neighbor.
- In The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, there are Judy Warren, Ed and Lorraine's daughter, and Judy Glatzel, mother of the possession victim.
- Origins Episode: Annabelle: Creation and The Nun detail the origins of both villains. The Crooked Man will likely follow.
- Predecessor Villain: The Nun reveals that the Transylvanian Duke of St. Cârța was this for the franchise, as he was the one to originally summon Valak into the mortal world during the Middle Ages.
- Religious Horror: It's a given considering the wide use of Fantastic Catholicism, Hollywood Satanism, Demonic Possession (by a ghost, but still), and Hollywood Exorcism.
- Sequel Escalation: While the first Conjuring attempted to remain faithful to the source material by using a real-life accused witch, Bathsheba Sherman, as the source of the terror, the two sequels concocted over-the-top and completely fictional villains that had nothing to do with the real-life cases that the films were based on. And then there are the spin-offs, which are wholly original films who make no attempt to base their plot from real-life events.
- Shared Universe: The series started with The Conjuring, then branched out on villains-centric spinoffs set in the same universe.
- Villain Pedigree: While all evil spirits are dangerous, demons are presented as being far more powerful and dangerous than mere ghosts.
- Weirdness Magnet:
- Sister Charlotte has a penchant to run into demon-infested situations, as she has ended up in places haunted by both Valak and Annabelle.
- Ditto with the Warrens. The difference between them and Charlotte is that the Warrens deliberately seek weirdness, being Occult Detectives and all.