I don’t think I’d be rubbing too many people the wrong way by saying that The Conjuring 2 is one of the scariest movies out there, and that’s in no small part thanks to Bonnie Aarons‘ expertly portrayed demon nun, Valak. Whereas giving the creepy doll Annabelle her own movie seemed like somewhat of an odd choice, a prequel focusing on Valak is a super exciting prospect.
Needless to say, I was already pretty excited when I walked onto the film’s set back in June of 2017, but when we sat down to talk to the film’s screenwriter, Gary Dauberman (It, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation) and he started to talk about some of the influences for The Nun, I didn’t know how I was going to wait over a year to see the finished product.
“You know, Castlevania sort of comes to mind, it’s one of my favorites, I know James loves that too, so we talked a lot about that,” Dauberman revealed.
“We talked about the Hammer horror films – the more moody and atmospheric stuff – and Raiders [of the Lost Ark] was a big influence on me early on, writing this one, because it’s very much a mission movie; they’re sort of assigned their tasks, this priest and this nun, and then you’re off to the races.”
Castlevania, which holds the title of one of the best video games adaptations ever thanks to its Netflix series, is exactly what I want to hear when someone’s talking to me about a movie that’s about a Father and Sister traveling across Romania to investigate a murder in a forgotten abbey. Instantly my head fills with dark and colorful color pallets, sprawling castles and horrific enemies of the church to vanquish.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is seemingly the perfect pairing. One of my biggest gripes with Annabelle: Creation was that, despite loving the film, there really wasn’t much of a story to be told past the barrage of jump scares. One of the reasons The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 work so well for me is because the Warrens have a shared goal or mission to accomplish from the get-go that gives you a journey to remember, as well as something to root for.
The adventure film aspect of The Nun also makes me think that the film will be much more character driven than Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation. I think differentiating itself from what’s come before is good, because who really wants another retread of what we’ve already seen?
The third inspiration for The Nun is the film adaption of the novel The Name of the Rose, a 1986 murder-mystery starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater as a friar and his apprentice who are called upon to solve a mystery in an abbey. This one came from the series’ creator James Wan.
“With James, he’s got so many great ideas and he sort of sat down and said, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking about.’ He had a very clear vision of what he wanted in terms of setting, characters, and location, and we reference in The Name of the Rose,” Dauberman says. “It’s so fun and educational to sit across from him and talk story because he knows what works and he’s got a ton of great ideas. He’s generous with his ideas, and also open to other people’s ideas as well, so it’s not, ‘This is how it has to be,’ it’s, ‘This is what I’m thinking, what do you think?’ He pretty much said, ‘This is what it’s going to be,’ and it’s just about picking up the ball and trying to run with it as far downfield as you can.”
The Nun releases September 7, 2018.