Like every film in The Conjuring Universe The Nun claims to be based on a true story. Is this really the case?
The Conjuring films which is loosely inspired by the “demonologist” work of Ed and Lorraine Warren. They use this couple’s real life claims about what they experienced as a tie to the “based on a true story” or “based on real events” (there are many ways of wording it) trope that helps add a depth of terror to horror films. The Exorcist was the first film to use this trope and most scary movies find some way to connect their content to a personal anecdote or historical event. The Warrens were also tied to another blockbuster classic horror film and book – The Amityville Horror.
Interestingly enough, the man who wrote the book that the entire franchise is based on filed a lawsuit against the parent company Warner Bros. last year. The meat of Gerald Brittle’s 355-page complaint is that he had a “no competing work” clause with Ed and Lorraine Warren when he wrote the book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren and the allegedly “infringing on his copyright.” However, another part of his claims are more pertinent to the question at hand.
Brittle says he was “duped” by the Warrens’ story and no longer believes that what they described as their work in demon possession is based on real fact. “This is a pattern of deceit that is part of a scheme that the Warrens have perpetuated for years,” he wrote. “There are no historical facts of a witch ever existing at the Perron farmhouse, a witch hanging herself, possession, Satanic worship or child sacrifice.”
The Nun‘s demon Valak was first introduced in The Conjuring 2 when the Lorraine character finds out the demon has prevented her from being able to detect possession. In what is supposed the end of Valak’s story, Lorraine banishes Valak to hell. The Nun is an origin story for this popular demon.
Valak The Nun also made cameos in 2017’s Annabelle: Creation. Valak appears in a photograph during the film and is seen walking down a hallway in a post-credit scene.
As far as actual lore Valak is connected to, it doesn’t seem to be directly connected to a Warren case. Valak is a known demon character in centuries of culture. A 17th century book called Lesser Key of Solomon mentions a Valak, or Volak, or Valu as the “Sixty-second Spirit.”
Turn of the 20th century occultist Alistair Crowley updated his own version of the book and in it he describes Valak: “He is a President Mighty and Great, and appereth like a Child with Angel’s Wings, riding on a Two-headed Dragon. His Office is to give True Answers of Hidden Treasures, and to tell where Serpents may be seen. The which he will bring unto the Exorciser without any Force or Strength being by him employed. He governeth 38 Legions of Spirits, and his Seal is thus.”
So while the story itself isn’t based on historical fact, the lore of the Valak demon has a history. If you believe in demonlogy, then the idea of Valak may be very real.
The Nun got some initial buzz that adds to its creepy factor when it’s trailer was allegedly “banned” from YouTube. In reality The Nun trailer has never left YouTube and is still available (watch it below.) What really happened is a teaser clip advertisement including a disturbing image of The Nun was appearing in front of all sorts of videos that have nothing to do with horror. It was quite disturbing, especially for kids so after a lot of complaints, the ad was pulled. This led many to believe that the trailer itself was “banned.”
The film’s director Corin Hardy has even claimed to have experienced possible “ghosts” on the Romanian set for The Nun. He says saw some guys in the shadows while they were filming. After about an hour and a half he turned to them to asked what they thought and no one was there.
He says he remains skeptical about what he experienced, but seems to enjoy the idea of encountering “some Romanian ghosts.”
Amelia Cunningham is a Starcasm writer and editor