Annabelle Comes Home is the latest chapter of The Conjuring saga. But if you're confused on how it all comes together, let us explain this modern shared cinematic universe!
It’s kind of perfect that the only two successful major shared cinematic universes out there are superheroes and horror. Comics have been telling a sprawling, interconnected story since their inception, while the first connected film universe ever, the Universal Monsters, was a horror franchise. The Conjuring’s Annabelle, Valak, the Nun, and the Crooked Man are no Frankenstein’s Monster or Dracula, but the mission is the same: scaring as many people as possible.
What’s fun about all of these spin-offs and side stories is that they intentionally feature tiny epilogues or moments that feed into other films in the franchise. You don’t need to be aware of these touches of continuity to enjoy the films, but their presence shows how important this universe (and its timeline) is to James Wan and the respective filmmakers. It’s no coincidence that Wan has had a hand in every one of The Conjuring universe’s scripts in some capacity too.
The Conjuring universe has just added the latest chapter to their growing saga with Annabelle Comes Home, and for some the collective weight of these films and their connections may be too intimidating to jump in. What if I want to see Annabelle Comes Home but didn’t see The Nun? Will Annabelle 3 still make sense if I love the main Conjuring movies but have never checked out the previous two evil doll movies? Because a horror franchise’s backstory should never be more frightening than its actual story, here’s a helpful chronological breakdown of The Conjuring universe, from The Nun to Annabelle and beyond!
The Nun takes place in Romania in 1952 and at this point is the earliest chapter in The Conjuring universe. Wan and the film’s director, Corin Hardy, seem to have designed the film to be an “origin of evil” type of story, which explores the genesis of The Conjuring’s big baddie and ultimate evil, Valak. When a nun commits suicide at the Abbey of St. Carta, people begin to suspect that dark powers of Valak are involved. The film even powerfully opens on a sizzle reel of Valak’s damage, complete with Lorraine Warren’s foreboding voiceover, taken from The Conjuring 2.
The Nun digs into the individual who is responsible for summoning not only Valak into the world, but demons in general. The film depicts what is ostensibly the birth of the first evil that initiates all of the series’ supernatural trouble in the first place. There’s a flashback that goes all the way back to the Dark Ages as the Duke of St. Carta’s ritual to summon Valak gets shown in detail. The Nun also briefly jumps back in time to 1945 to show Father Burke’s first experience with demonic possession. Whether the force that takes control of Daniel is Valak or some other evil, Valak still uses Daniel’s spirit as a means to torture Burke throughout the film (and really plays into the “Marquis of Snakes” namesake).
After it looks like Sister Irene and company have defeated Valak, The Nun not only shows that they were unsuccessful, but the film then jumps to 1977 during the Warrens’ “three stages of possession” lecture from The Conjuring 2. The couple’s possession footage gets framed in new light as the twisted fate of The Nun’s Maurice (“Frenchie”) is revealed. It also shows that the Warrens initially encounter Valak much earlier than they realize.
James Wan has said that he’s thought about how a sequel to The Nun would ultimately tie back to Lorraine Warren’s connection to Valak in The Conjuring 2 and bring the franchise full-circle in the process. The most logical story here would be to follow what happens to the Valak-possessed Maurice before the Warrens meet up with him (or even end the film with their intervention). In theory, The Nun 2 could take place any time between 1952 and 1975, but the late ‘50s or early ‘60s probably makes the most sense.
The Conjuring 3
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (also known as The Conjuring 3) is a 2021 American supernatural horror film directed by Michael Chaves, with a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick from a story by Johnson-McGoldrick and James Wan. The film serves as a sequel to The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016), and as the eighth installment in the Conjuring Universe. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as paranormal investigators and authors Ed and Lorraine Warren, with Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, and Julian Hilliard also starring. Wan and Peter Safran return to produce the film, which is based on the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a murder trial that took place in 1981 Connecticut.
The Devil Made Me Do It reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they'd ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
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