The latest movie in the Conjuring horror universe, The Nun, explores the origins of the demon Valak–or at least, how it entered our world from Hell in the series’ history. Taking place years before The Conjuring 1 and 2, it’s definitely a prequel, although there are only two characters in The Nun who appeared in the later movies as well. One of those is obviously Valak, the Nun itself, the terrifying Sunday school demon who’s terrorized the Warrens now across multiple films. The other is a spoiler.
The Nun spoilers below!
At the very end of The Nun, audiences learn that Jonas Bloquet’s character, Frenchie, is actually named Maurice–and he’s the same man who appeared in a brief scene in the original Conjuring movie, when Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) played a recording of an exorcism they’d performed on him. Unsurprisingly, The Nun’s heroes hadn’t actually vanquished Valak by its end, and Frenchie walked away from the monastery with a soul-sucking passenger on board his body. Years after The Nun, but before The Conjuring, the Warrens will exorcise this demon–killing Frenchie in the process, and freeing Valak to set its sights on Lorraine.
The Nun’s director, Corin Hardy, told GameSpot it was important that the movie connect to the larger Conjuring universe in meaningful ways.
“It was always sort of laid out in the script, and I wanted to make sure that we honored the mythologies and the other movies in the Conjuring world,” he said. “There’s some subtle connections and some visual connections…and there’s some significant ones. It’s obviously a movie that takes place 20 years before the first Conjuring, so a lot can happen between then.”
The Nun pulls kind of a weird move when it opens and concludes with existing clips from previous Conjuring movies. At the beginning, it shows several shots of Lorraine Warren doing battle with the Nun, which Hardy said was meant to bring audiences up to speed–even if it sort of blew the reveal.
“It was certainly debated, for sure,” he said. “Of course I’m really conscious of wanting to protect the monster and only reveal it in certain ways. Then equally, you’ve got an audience out there who’s generally seen The Conjuring 2 and has come to see that Nun…We’re making the movie, obviously, for the fans of The Conjuring, as well as a new audience who has not seen any Conjuring movies or Annabelle movies. You can watch this and then you can go and watch that, or you’ve already seen all of them and watch this. So it’s sort of a balancing act.”
“I think we’re just sort of reminding you briefly of the existence of this character from The Conjuring 2, and hinting that you’re gonna be able to figure out during this movie where, how the demon man came to be, how Valak came into the world of the Warrens in both The Conjuring 2 and The Conjuring,” he said.
One question many Conjuring fans have is how involved James Wan is in the series. Wan directed The Conjuring and wrote and directed The Conjuring 2, and now produces every movie in the series (including the Annabelle films). When it comes to the spin-offs, is he pulling the strings behind the scenes like Marvel Cinematic Universe boss Kevin Feige? Or does he take a more hands on approach with movies like The Nun?
“He’s the creator of these stories, and he was super collaborative,” Hardy said. “It wasn’t like he sat down and then discussed a series of instructions and rules. I think it was very much more sort of driven by the passion of horror. When you meet someone who is into the same music as you, you kind of have a little bit of an unspoken relationship. You’re on the same page. Both James, [Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and The Nun writer] Gary Dauberman, and myself, we all love horror movies.”
As for future Conjuring movies, including the planned Conjuring 3 and The Crooked Man, Hardy said he didn’t include too many hints for what’s coming in The Nun, although he said “there certainly could be” clues that fans have yet to notice. But there was almost a much more direct reference to The Crooked Man, another avatar of Valak who first appeared in The Conjuring 2 and is now set to get its own spin-off. “I did toy with putting the Crooked Man in one of the tombs or trying to have the little wind up box or something,” Hardy said. “But it felt a little strange in this one.”