While The Conjuring series is surprisingly solid, the spin-offs have been largely lacklustre thus far. The Conjuring 1 & 2 follow Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the real-life ghost hunting duo of Ed and Lorraine Warren, re-enacting several of the paranormal duos actual hauntings (not their most famous, however — the Amityville house).
Annabelle is another real-life story for Ed and Lorraine’s lives that have been brought to the silver screen in two poorly reviewed films. Annabelle the doll is a Raggedy Ann doll that is believed to be demonically possessed, and the paranormal investigators took ownership of it in the 70s. The films create stories for Annabelle’s life before that, haunting an expectant couple in the 1960s and an orphanage in the 1950s, respectively.
The Nun is the first Conjuring spin-off that is 100% an original creation: while the other films have all taken artistic license, there was a hint of “based on a true story” about it. A demonic nun is featured predominately in The Conjuring 2, and the aptly-named The Nun will delve into the spirit’s origins. The Nun is said to be the first film in the series’ continuity, going all the way back to 1952. (Personally, I think they could have gone further into the past – how creepy would a nun from the 1600s be?)
Here’s the official synopsis:
The story centers on a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania taking her own life, with a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret and confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun from “The Conjuring 2.”
Oscar nominee Demián Bechir stars as Father Burke alongside Taissa Farmiga, Vera’s younger sister and American Horror Story star, as Sister Irene.
James Wan co-wrote the script, but directing duties have been handed over to Corin Hardy. Hardy’s only got one feature film to his name so far, 2015’s The Hallow. The Hallow was a creepy and atmospheric Irish horror film with lots of a mythology and some decent jump scares, making Hardy seem like a good fit for the Conjuring universe.
The casting is part of what sets The Conjuring films apart from other horror franchises. The use of ‘serious’ actors (award winners, Oscar nominees, etc.) brings a sense of legitimacy to the roles in a way that a typical “hot young actor here to get killed” wouldn’t. The actors take the characters seriously, the filmmakers take the stories seriously, and therefore audiences take the movie seriously: a girl being thrown around a room by a ghost, a haunted doll and an evil nun aren’t ridiculous, they’re terrifying. Bechir and Farmiga (the younger) are right in that strain of actor, and the vintage, foreign setting (a monastery in Romania) offers something new. The Nun could easily be another hit for the Conjuring franchise, and expand the mythos well beyond Ed and Lorraine.