Top 10 Movies Like The Conjuring, Ranked

movies like The Conjuring
What does this freaky thing do?

How Many of These Movies Like The Conjuring Have You Watched?

The Conjuring Trailer

The Conjuring scared the heck out of audiences in 2013, and sparked a few spin-offs. What other films did it right?

James Wan’s film is based on the true cases of demonologists and paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of their most known investigations was about the famous Amityville haunting, which became a novel followed two years later by a film in 1979 (which has been remade and has several sequels).

A dead girl inhabits a doll named Annabelle. Or so it seems until the couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) explains that demons don’t possess objects. They possess people. Annabelle was never possessed by any ghost. A demonic spirit simply used the doll as a conduit to possess the doll’s owner.

In parallel, we meet a nice family of seven, whose house appears to turn on them. They uncover a creepy boarded-up basement that houses a decrepit piano and who-knows-what else lurking in the dark. Of course, objects are not possessed, and head of household Carolyn (Lili Taylor) enlists the Warrens’ help to unearth the true nature of their home’s troubles. The most vulnerable characters fall victim to the malevolent presence first. As with many supernatural horror films, demons seem to favor turning the mother on the child to wreak havoc. The Conjuring is creepy because the jump-scares are a little less conventional than similar films, and work mainly because the majority of the terror is expressed via screaming – brutal, honest, visceral terror from the gut. The tropes of the child fearing the boogeyman, sleepwalking, imagining something evil under the bed are enablers to the entities that emerge from dark corners of the eerie house.

The Conjuring is in the vein of classic Poltergeist (1982). Evil things try to break a family apart. One might also recall the exorcism scenes from The Exorcist (1973), although the role of the Church in Wan’s film is only minimal. In 2014, The Conjuring won numerous awards including the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Fangoria’s Chainsaw Awards were given to James Wan for best Wide Release Film, and to Lili Taylor for Best Supporting Actress. Wan’s film also made a killing with about a dozen nominations and five wins from the Fright Meter Awards in 2013.

So why was the film so successful? Movies based on true stories tend to feel more relatable. The everyday family and the non-glamorized Hollywood treatment give it more authenticity. The helplessness of the characters, and the genuine interest of the Warrens’ to assist people just like themselves give a perspective often missing from straight slasher flicks. If you like the premise of ‘the invasion’ and stories revolving around family dynamics, here are the Top 10 other thrill-inducing films like The Conjuring:

10. Insidious

Insidious Trailer

The other James Wan movie in our list is Insidious (2010). Another large family moves to a new house.  Another grungy basement. Another piano. More objects that move on their own. After a first move to a so-called haunted house, the family encounters new troubles at a second house. Mom Renai (Rose Byrne) feels overwhelmed trying to deal with the spirits she sees very clearly, in an almost reach-out-and-touch-evil sort of way. She accuses her husband, Josh (Patrick Wilson, who played Ed Warren in The Conjuring) of not being present enough in their family’s day to day. She feels he doesn’t support her and doesn’t believe the things she says she is seeing in their home while he is away at work. And then a sad, piano-playing mother has to come to terms with her son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falling into a coma for no medically explicable reason.

During the process of seeking help on her own, Renai finally makes a dent thanks to her mother-in-law’s revelatory secret about Josh. Josh soon starts to remember having odd dreams as a child. It seems he has passed down his special gift to unconscious Dalton. The boy’s peculiar coma is the key to solving the mystery of the goblins and creatures stalking the family. As in The Conjuring, the couple reaches out to some ghost-hunters specialized in paranormal activity. At first they appear clumsy and bogus. The at-first unconvincing team eventually develops an ingenious plan to get Dalton back from the clutches of a red-faced demon who lives beyond a red door. This is where distant Dad steps up his game.

Insidious shares a visual rhythm with The Conjuring, and reminds us of the family’s need to collaborate to undo whatever harm has befallen them. Some of the visions of lurking creatures are expectedly similar. Not to get completely repetitive, Wan threw a little extra spice into his Insidious soup by incorporating some offbeat Lynchian moments in the otherworld sequences. The humanoid entities frozen in time under colored lighting might only serve one purpose. They demonstrate the weirdness of limbo between life and death; sleep and wakefulness.

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Daria is an octopus (multi-tasker!). Since graduating from Film Studies, she has freelanced as an arts & culture writer. Currently she focuses on film critique – specializing in horror and genre film.
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