Just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Conjuring franchise has aimed to set up its own world and characters. This has had some strange results. After the Conjuring films, Nun and two Annabelle films, another Annabelle film, Annabelle Comes Home, is set to hit the screens in June.
The question is, did we need another film from the Conjuring universe?
Of course, the answer isn’t entirely in black and white. It has been a very strained, almost toxic relationship with the Conjuring universe, as some of the films have just been plain disappointing and yawn-worthy. And after The Curse Of The Weeping Woman, we almost felt like we didn’t need any more from the universe. But then, who listens.
Let’s look at the earlier films in the Conjuring universe and see what worked and what didn’t.
We were introduced to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring, played by Owen Wilson and Vera Farmiga. These characters were inspired by the real-life demonologists, who had experienced supernatural horrors in their life- or so they say. We were witness to the story of a happy family, living in a seemingly welcoming house in Rhode Island.
The first half of the film had some quality jump-scares. You won’t forget the demon sitting on the wardrobe and flying down to attack the daughter in a hurry, or the random sounds in the house that could make the sparse hairs on your neck stand up. The second half was a little stretched and dragged, especially after the demon’s mystery was unraveled.
However, all said and done, the Conjuring set the bar high. It made good use of done-to-death horror elements like a haunted house, creepy cellars, and scary dolls. The performances of Vera Farmiga and Owen Wilson carried the film through.
The second film was a tad disappointing. The high point of the film was Nun Valak. Despite having some good horrific moments, the film was unable to conjure up the same tension and fear that the film did. It got tiring to see haunted houses. Apart from this, the film stretched painfully and it takes 1.5 hours before something happens.
There is something about demonic dolls. Capitalising on this fear, along came Annabelle. Annabelle revolved around the hideous and terrifying doll of the same name, (enough to scare children from ever buying dolls), who incites a wave of violence in the house she has been brought into.
The film had a few good frightening moments, yet for those who have seen the film Rosemary’s Baby, or rather any film that producer James Wan (who is responsible for the Conjuring franchise) has had a say in, will know how the story will pan out in the first 30 minutes itself.
Annabelle: The Creation (2017) redeemed its prequel. The doll was awakened by pesky children, and it ran around on a murderous rampage. The film is actually better than Conjuring 2 as well, as it relied more on atmosphere and frightening symbolism. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but its gothic approach revived some interest in the Conjuring universe, which Annabelle had singlehandedly killed.
The Nun seemed like the final nail in the coffin in the Conjuring Universe. Valak was the star of Conjuring 2, but she soon became a tragic comedy in her standalone film.
Despite their flaws, the Conjuring franchise still managed to keep the audience’s interest. It could also probably because of choice of actors like Vera Farmiga and Owen Wilson. However in The Nun, though Vera’s sister Taissa, who plays Sister Irene, bears a striking resemblance to her, couldn’t offer much to her role as the terrified nun.
There was hardly any mystery that needed to be solved as well. What do you do about ghostly and cryptic nuns pouring out of everywhere?
The Nun followed the horror film textbook closely and every possible cliché, that you can think of, to the extent that even the jump scares become predictable. The characters chased after ghostly people in graveyards, and even stayed in a haunted abbey, after being buried alive. There are some outright bizarre things such as a boy spitting out snakes as well, and you can’t help but say What? Why?
There’s a confused blend of history and religion as well, and some elements are shoehorned into the story conveniently. Nun was unbearable, and there was much hope that the Conjuring universe would come to an end.
THE CURSE OF THE WEEPING WOMAN
If you were tired of the Nun, the Weeping Woman wouldn’t have soothed your drained spirits completely. The floorboards still creaked, and the windows continue to rattle. By this time you just hoped that people would get better architects for their houses.
Weeping Woman had an excellent premise, that is based on a Mexican folk tale called La Llrona, which literally translates to Weeping Woman. The Woman takes children, as the tagline says so clearly. To be fair, the film had fantastic cinematography and the first hour keeps you hooked with its tale of possession and haunting. And then it becomes a typical horror story, punctuated by screams and the usual crucifixes.
There aren’t many surprising elements left for the Conjuring Universe to capitalise on. And even if they have a good premise, the makers seem to get so tangled up in giving their audience jump scares that they forget about the story itself.
So, there is a weary audience waiting for the release of Annabelle Comes Home. The previous Annabelle film was decent and the new one looks interesting, but unfortunately we’ve had too many disappointments from the Conjuring universe.
We’re tired. Let’s hope Annabelle comes home and does more than just grimace at us this time.