Corin Hardy Interview: The Nun

We interview The Nun director Corin Hardy about calling the shots on the Conjuring spinoff and his experience making the film in Romania.

The Nun is a spinoff of The Conjuring 2 and the fifth movie in The Conjuring series. In 1952 Romania, a Catholic priest and a novice are investigating the mysterious suicide of a nun.  The film gained mainstream attention when YouTube pulled The Nun’s six-second ads after jump-scare complaints.  The ads fooled viewers into turning up the volume right before the titular character appeared with a blood-curdling scream. Director Corin Hardy talked about joining the project and his encounter with ghosts on the set. The Nun hits theaters September 7, 2018.

Screen Rant: You did your job. You did it well, sir.

Corin Hardy: Thank you kindly.

Screen Rant: The question I have is with The Nun is obviously a spinoff character from The Conjuring franchise. How was this character chosen? And when you first got the script, when you were going through it, what were some of the ideas that immediately jumped at you?

Corin Hardy: So, when I got the script, obviously, I was familiar with The Conjuring 2 and the fact that James [Wan] had introduced this character, well, there for not very long.  So, it was quite a unique situation, I think, to get to make a movie which wasn't a sequel or remake. But that was of a character that exists in movie and give them their own story. So, it was exciting. And then actually discovering the story was more of a, almost its own different genre to the other movies. It's got more of an adventure.  More of a journey or mystery investigation aspect to it. Which I really loved. And there was, just for me, I look for movies which I can kind of lose myself in. Or the idea of just trying to transport you. And it was so nice to see this story taking place in 1952 in Romania. Sort of a very classic gothic horror story. It harks back to the movies I grew up watching the Hammer horror movies, Dracula, some Italian horror movies. And it just felt like an opportunity to really dive into a place. And when you read certain scenes and set pieces, my sort of excitement bells start ringing. This concept of perpetual adoration, which I'd never heard of, which is almost like 24 / 7 praying to keep the evil at bay. So, I immediately was like, oh, this is going to be… in fact, in the script, originally it was sort of mentioned, but it wasn't really seen. So, something which I felt like we really want to do something shown.

Screen Rant: Now, you kind of made headlines last week when YouTube kind of pulled your trailer because it was too scary. Do you look at that as a badge of honor? How do you look at that?

Corin Hardy: It's a really nice, unexpected part of the promotion of this movie. I mean, you can't plan that sort of thing. So, of course it was… At the same time, I didn't want to upset anyone. And if people genuinely were having a bad time watching the trailer, I mean, then I wouldn't want to offend them. So, maybe it should have been taken down. But, yeah, it's a certain badge of honor.

Screen Rant: I thought the trailer was brilliant and it did scare me. I'm not going to lie. It did have that jump-scare. But speaking of jump-scares, that's an integral part of any kind of horror filmmaking. What's your philosophy on that? And how do you execute that technique? To keep the audience off balance a little bit?

Corin Hardy: Yeah. That's just what you're trying to do is keep the audience off balance. Everyone's become very sophisticated to horror stories. And you see, it's very hard to just try and keep someone unsure of what's about to happen next.  In a story, and in a lead up to a scare, for me, it's a balance of trying to just keep an overall tension within the story and piece, regardless of whether the scares are going to jump out at you. Whether that kind of the overall atmosphere just is feeling more and more ominous. It helps that, if you're feeling on edge and you're starting to grip the seats and get sweaty, and you don't know whether there's going to be a scare or if something's going to come out of the shadows. And then also, it's nice to not do that so that they don't know. Oh God, I thought something was. And something comes from another place.

Screen Rant: Yeah, that's a great point. Because there's a scene in there with Father Burke running through these sheets. And I was expecting, the tension, right. But they'll see the movie and find out what I'm talking about. But it's an amazing scene. I really dug that. Now, how early did you get involved in this project? And when you watched The Conjuring 2, were you already starting to think of backstories for The Nun?

Corin Hardy: When I saw The Conjuring 2, I mean, I'm a devoted horror fan so I've seen all of James’s movies.  And I'd seen The Conjuring 2 at the cinema when it came out. I wasn't thinking, I’m going to make that film. That was a few years ago. But I was definitely aware of the demon nun sort of being quite prominent. Especially, she wasn't in it for very long. But she kind of stole the show in a sense. So, when I got the script, I knew the character. I was curious to see where it would go and was excited to see where it went. And felt like it was going in a fresh direction and it was very much James Wan and Gary Dauberman, the writer's, intention to take the universe in a slightly different direction. And that was enticing for me.

Screen Rant: Now, this movie we shot totally in Romania. I talked with you at San Diego. And you talked about how you kind of blessed sets and some creepy things happened.

Corin Hardy: [LAUGHS] I didn't bless them.

Screen Rant: You didn't, yourself. Yeah. But it happened. Did you experience any creepy things in Romania when you were shooting this?

Corin Hardy: I did. I had a supernatural experience. There was a few things.  Actually something, that I think it's been mentioned. One thing that happened, which was great, was in the courtyard at night in the castle we shot in.  We suddenly got a bat, flew into the courtyard. A wounded bat, or a young bat. And it flew around and couldn't get up, it was on the ground. And I think it was actually Bonnie Aarson, who played the Nun, and a visual effects guy that were kind of nurturing this bat. And we gradually let it free into the sky and it flapped away and it just felt like a kind of Hammer horror movie.  But in a supernatural sense, I had a run in with a couple of, what I assume were, Romanian ghosts. For real in the Mogoșoaia fortress where we were filming the corridor of crosses sequence. When Irene is making her way down towards this door that something left behind. And we were shooting in a real Romanian fortress, underground, in a tunnel in the dark. Everything's real, the walls are dripping with slime.  I was based inside a room off the corridor in the darkness, a sealed room. As I went into the room, I saw a couple of guys I thought was sound guys, and it was very dark, low light. I said hello to them. And then I proceeded to watch the sequence that we were shooting. Trying quite hard to get a technical thing to work with a camera rotation. And that took a few takes and it was quite frustrating. And then when I finally got the shot I was quite elated, punched the air. And I turned around to see if these two guys had seen the take and there was no one there.  No one sitting in the room. No way in our out. And it was a moment which I can only explain genuinely as being some Romanian ghosts. I mean, it was a fortress.

Screen Rant: I'm never going to Romania. But congratulations on the film. It's amazing. Great job.

Corin Hardy: Thank you so much.

MORE: The Complete Timeline of the Conjuring Franchise

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