The unholy evil in holy guise is back in the horror thriller “The Nun,” the latest chapter stemming from James Wan’s “Conjuring” universe, with an entire film dedicated to the origin of her horrifying visage.
Audiences got their first frightful glimpse of the demonic Nun Valak, who plagued Lorraine Warren’s visions and filled her with dread in the horror hit “The Conjuring 2.” In “The Nun,” the epic battle of good vs. evil pits a priest with a dark history and a novitiate whose own past isn’t the only thing that haunts her against the blasphemy that is the Demon Nun.
A producer on this film, James Wan offers, “The idea that something held as sacred and pure as a nun could become twisted in such an evil, supernatural way disturbs people at a very core level.”
In fact, from the moment the entity appeared on screen, Wan and fellow producer Peter Safran knew the Nun had struck a deep psychological chord with the audience. Safran recalls, “She had a relatively small, albeit pivotal, role, so it was incredible how much she resonated with people. We knew instantly the Nun deserved an origin story; people wanted to know where she came from…and why.”
Wan and Safran put director Corin Hardy at the helm after seeing his film “The Hallow.” Hardy states, “It was a dream come true to get the call. I knew it was something I could really sink my teeth into and was excited to construct a new portion of the ‘Conjuring’ universe.”
Screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who also served as an executive producer, was a natural choice to craft the screenplay after penning the hugely successful “Annabelle” and the possessed doll’s origin story, “Annabelle: Creation,” in which the malevolent Nun made a brief appearance.
“The script is so intense,” Hardy states. “Gary is a super talented writer; he really knows this genre because, like me, he loves horror and his passion for it shows. He balanced the story with big ideas and really interesting characters facing horrifying prospects. The story hooks you from the start and never lets you go.”
In crafting the story, Dauberman and Wan immersed it in the rich, dark gothic style afforded by the story’s foreboding setting—a castle in Transylvania, Romania, a place that has strong roots in horror. In the film, the castle has been taken over by the church and functioned as an abbey for years. Pushing the fear factor further, the abbey is cloistered, and the nuns have imposed upon themselves total separation from the rest of the world.
Dauberman attests, “They’re in a big citadel at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, and they’re all alone. There are long corridors and archways and the big chapel inside—things you don’t see in a typical house. Imagine a young novitiate entering those castle gates. Suddenly, you’re very small against this big backdrop and there are a lot more shadows and places that something frightening could emanate from. It just takes everything scary and amplifies it that much more.”
Wan adds, “These nuns are essentially trapped in this abbey, and they have to deal with basically keeping the lid on this demonic entity that’s been percolating and bubbling to the surface. Trying to stem an evil from coming into our world…that’s classic gothic storytelling.”
And in this ominous fortress, the stakes couldn’t be higher…because nothing is as it seems.
In Philippine cinemas Thursday, September 6, The Nun is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.