How ‘The Nun’ Fits in With the Rest of the ‘Conjuring’ Universe
The latest chapter of the Conjuring film universe is The Nun, which opens in theaters nationwide this Friday. Yes, the Conjuring universe is now a thing. So, you might be asking yourself, is it necessary to see the other movies before seeing this one? What exactly is the “Conjuring universe,” and how does The Nun factor into it?
The short answer is that this appears to be a standalone movie that you can watch without seeing anything else, but don’t be surprised if it features some light tie-ins to The Conjuring 2, the movie that it is a direct prequel to, as well as Annabelle: Creation. Just so that you’re up to speed in case you’ve missed any of these films or don’t remember them well, let’s break down the Conjuring universe up until this point.
It all started in 2013 with The Conjuring, a horror movie by James Wan in which paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren help a family experiencing supernatural occurrences at their home. During that film, we see that Ed and Lorraine have an entire room filled with haunted artifacts they’ve collected from their various cases, one of which is a creepy doll, Annabelle. In the opening scene of The Conjuring, it’s explained that Annabelle was terrorizing a group of young nurses in their apartment in 1968, and the Warrens took it off their hands. The doll ends up in their artifact room, where it remains at the end of The Conjuring.
In 2014, there was a prequel movie, Annabelle, which is set one year before those young nurses get their hands on the doll. This wasn’t exactly an origin story about Annabelle, though, as much as it was a separate movie that featured the doll as the main antagonist. This isn’t like a Chucky situation where the doll actually moves and goes around killing people, though. It’s just used as a conduit for a demonic presence. The main characters are John and Mia, and in an early scene, a woman named Annabelle Higgins breaks into their home and slits her throat while holding the Annabelle doll, and we later find out she did so as part of a satanic ritual.
In 2016, there was The Conjuring 2, and this is the one you really need to know about before seeing The Nun. Ed and Lorraine in this sequel go to investigate a haunting in Enfield, England. For a while, the Warrens and the family they’re helping, the Hodgsons, think the house is being haunted by the ghost of its former owner, but it turns out it’s a demon named Valak. It’s important to note that Valak takes numerous forms in the movie, one of which is a creepy-looking nun. But Valak doesn’t actually look like a nun; Lorraine Warren says it’s only taking this form to test her faith because she is extremely religious. At the end of the film, we see the demon’s true form, and it looks like this:
The demon also takes the form of The Crooked Man, a character from one of the kids’ toys. Valak is seemingly defeated at the end of The Conjuring 2, being sent back to hell after Lorraine figures out its name and says it aloud.
Last year, Annabelle got its own sequel, Annabelle: Creation, which is mostly a standalone story about two young orphans who are terrorized by Annabelle, as well as an origin story about the doll itself. Basically, a dollmaker named Samuel Mullins makes it, and it’s just a normal doll at first. He and his wife then tragically lose their daughter in an accident. They’re desperate to see her again, and in an attempt to do so, they get tricked into allowing a demon to enter the Annabelle doll. They lock the doll in a room covered in pages from the Bible, which keeps it at bay for a few years.
But then, during the present timeline of the actual movie, an orphan girl named Janice accidentally unleashes the demonic presence again. After becoming possessed by the demon herself, Janice runs away, gets adopted by the Higgins family, and takes the name Annabelle. Years later, she murders both of her parents and kills herself while holding the Annabelle doll, transferring the demon’s spirit back into the doll again, as seen in the first Annabelle.
One of the main characters in Creation is Sister Charlotte, and at one point, she explains that she spent some time at a convent of cloister nuns in Romania, becoming very close with three of them: Sister Maria, Sister Anna, and Sister Lucia. She shows Samuel a picture of the four of them together, but we can see the creepy Valek nun from The Conjuring 2 on the far right side of the photo. “Who’s this?” Samuel asks. Charlotte responds, “I don’t know. I don’t think I even met her.” By this point, the Conjuring universe has gone full Marvel by putting scenes into the movies that serve no purpose other than to set up the next one, and this was obviously a teaser for The Nun.
Speaking of going full Marvel, Annabelle: Creation ends with a post-credits scene. At the Abbey of St. Carta in 1952 Romania, the demon nun slowly approaches the camera while the candles all go out around her.
Now we have The Nun, which takes place, you guessed it, in Romania in 1952. After a nun’s mysterious suicide, the Vatican sends a Catholic priest and a young novice to investigate. It seems that this will mainly be a standalone horror film in the same way that Annabelle and, to a lesser extent, Annabelle: Creation was.
But it also exists in the broader context of the Conjuring universe, in which we already know that the characters will be up against a demon named Valek, and the creepy nun is only one form that it takes. We probably shouldn’t expect a happy ending, considering that based on The Conjuring 2, we know Valek will still be terrorizing people into the 21st century.