To celebrate The Nun arriving on Blu-ray and DVD January 14th, we’re taking a look back through The Conjuring Universe timeline to prepare you for the latest in the series.
The Nun - 1952
The Nun overturns the story of the individual responsible for summoning Valak into the world. There’s a flashback that goes 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.
After it looks like Sister Irene and co have defeated Valak, The Nun shows that they were unsuccessful – jumping forward to 1977 during the Warrens’ “three stages of possession” lecture from The Conjuring 2. The couple’s possession footage gets framed in a 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 realise.
Annabelle Creation - 1955
Annabelle: Creation’s goal is to explain how the possessed doll from The Conjuring came into existence. Samuel Mullins is a doll-maker and after the death of his daughter, the Mullins are so desperate to see their child that they form a pact with a demon (that they believe is their daughter’s spirit) and allow it to possess a doll as a host. Janice, one of the orphans, forms an unusual friendship with the possessed doll and the awakened evil spirit is now hungry for a human channel.
Additionally, at one-point, Sister Charlotte shows off a photo of herself and three other nuns from back when she was in Romania. The important thing about this is that an unnamed Valak is also present in the background of the photo as a fellow nun. While these nuns aren’t named, the photo originally appears on the wall of the convent within the Abbey of St. Carta in The Nun, placing Sister Charlotte’s photo in the year 1952
Annabelle - 1967
The desperate Forms turn to the church as a last resort. This is ultimately what gets Annabelle in the orbit of the Warrens. Father Perez even makes a sly reference to the Warrens (albeit not by name) as one of his solutions to the Annabelle problem, although he can’t reach them in time.
Annabelle concludes with a tag that’s set six months after the events of the film and cleanly leads into the incident seen in The Conjuring’s prologue. Both Rick and Debbie from The Conjuring make a brief appearance as Debbie’s mom buys the doll from an antique shop and the rest is history.
A third Annabelle film is currently in the works and it will allegedly focus on the doll haunting Judy Warren, Ed and Lorraine's daughter, placing it right after the events of The Conjuring 2 and likely set in either 1977 or 1978.
The Conjuring - 1971
Set in 1971, The Conjuring tells a fairly straightforward haunted house story that culminates in a terrifying exorcism sequence. Wan and company were just trying to make a good horror film with the first Conjuring, not launch a layered horror universe, so it doesn’t try to set up a handful of other properties. The film doesn’t even feature Valak, but instead opts for an isolated evil spirit known as Bathsheba. The Conjuring benefits from not trying to overextend itself and the Warrens’ creepy curio of haunted antiques leaves plenty of inspiration
The Conjuring 2 - 1976/1977
The Hodgson family find themselves under attack by the ghost of Bill Wilkins, the residence’s former tenant. However, it’s eventually revealed that Valak is actually the real threat here and he’s manipulated Bill Wilkins’ ghost to do his bidding (not unlike what Valak does to young Daniel’s ghost in The Nun). A lot of The Conjuring 2 pits Lorraine against Valak as her biggest challenge yet. The demon can even block Lorraine’s psychic powers, which is significant.
Lorraine tries to keep Janet Hodgson safe from Valak’s clutches, but the demon also chooses to manifest through the youngest Hodgson kid’s zoetrope toy. Ed helps protect Billy from the Crooked Man, and the film ends with the zoetrope being added to the Warrens’ haunted antique collection, right next to the Annabelle doll and April’s music box from the first Conjuring.
The Conjuring 2 sees Lorraine effectively send Valak back to Hell and ends the threat that started in the Abbey of St. Carta all the way back in The Nun.