WARNING: Major spoilers for The Nun ahead.
The Nun's ending is the most shocking in The Conjuring franchise, surprisingly retconning the original movie to reveal a dark, long-standing connection. It's become a tradition for Conjuring spinoffs to tie directly into previous movies in the franchise: Annabelle moved the doll in the direction of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), while prequel Annabelle: Creation led directly into the first movie's opening scene. But The Nun goes one better, trying directly into The Conjuring parent franchise and making Valak the true big bad.
The malevolent, demonic force known as Valak was first introduced in The Conjuring 2, seen most commonly on Earth in the form of a ghostly Nun. In James Wan's 2016 sequel, she plotted to both kill Ed Warren as a means to pacify the psychic Lorraine and possess a teenage girl as part of the real-life Enfield haunting. Fortunately, the Warrens discovered the plot and by finally speaking its name, Lorraine was able to banish Valak to hell. Annabelle: Creation went on to establish that the Nun was previously from a convent in Romania, with a post-credits scene teasing her full spinoff.
The Nun explores where Valak and its ghostly form came from. Corin Hardy's film follows Father Burke and Sister Irene, two envoys of the Vatican investigating the suicide of a nun in Romania. It quickly becomes apparent that something mysterious is going on in the abbey and the duo investigate. Of course, audiences know exactly what's going on from their previous experiences with Valak. What even die-hard Conjuring fans may not expect, however, is where The Nun's ending takes us.
- This Page: What Really Happened In The Nun's Ending
- Page 2: How The Nun's Ending Connects To The Conjuring Explained
Valak's Origin & The Nun Disguise Explained
All The Conjuring 2 really revealed about Valak was that it was a demon for hell whose full name - Valak, the Defiler, the Profane, the Marquis of Snakes - would banish it. This left The Nun with a lot of free room to explain its origins and motives - and it doesn't disappoint.
As revealed by Sister Oana (or, rather, a ghost of her recreated by Valak), in the Dark Ages, a Duke of St Cartha attempted to use the abbey to open a gateway to hell and unleash unspeakable evil on the Earth. That evil was Valak, who almost broke through before the Catholic Church killed the Duke and sealed the portal using the actual blood of Christ (using something akin to the Holy Grail).
During this sequence of The Nun, we get another glimpse of Valak's true form after a flash in The Conjuring 2, also shown in books researched by Father Burke - it's a black demon figure, not dissimilar to the demon from the Annabelle series. Of course, that's not its known form: Valak adopts the creepier nun in an attempt to blend into the convent. This doesn't quite explain why it keeps that look when venturing further out into the world, although one explanation is that the fear it conjures is worth the illogicies: we know from The Conjuring 2 that creatures prey on fears.
Valak was only released in World War II when bombs damaged the abbey and broke the physical seal holding it back. Since then, the nuns have been praying round the clock to hold the evil back. Eventually, though, their vigil broke, Valak was freed and all the sisters were killed... leading to the events of The Nun.
How Sister Irene & Co. "Defeat" The Nun
Most of The Nun's plot involves Burke and Irene (with assistance from French-Canadian Frenchie) investigating the convent to discover what's happened. Eventually, they discover the truth: despite finding a semi-active convent, the place is deserted, with only Valak there to play with them. They also deduce the demon is looking for a new host, so while the mission of confirming what's happened for the church is done, they set about defeating the Nun once and for all.
The method is rather simple, with The Nun's third act mainly a series of short horror set pieces rather than an intricate scheme: Irene gets the vial of Christ's blood by using her divinely ordained premonitions and after a tussle with Valak spits blood on the creature (a callback to the villagers' distaste for the creature), seemingly banishing it. However, this is a Conjuring film, and the other side is never that simple.
How The Nun Possessed Frenchie
Once Valak is defeated, the trio bury the sisters in the once-again-holy land surrounding the convent. However, as they leave the camera reveals that Frenchie - real name Maurice, now planning to go be a tomato farmer - has an upside down cross on the back of his neck: Valak survived, taking him as a new host to finally free itself from the confines of the Romanian abbey for the first time!
While this twist is surprising somewhat - we last saw him saving Irene and getting bashful over doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation - it actually makes total sense in what The Nun has shown us. Irene is captured in a pentagram and taken by Valak. She's freed when Maurice splashes blood on her, with the spirit going for the French-Canadian and locking the nun out. What follows isn't shown - Valak emerges, followed later by Frenchie - but evidently, around this point, he was possessed. It seems that he was taken straight away, explaining why Valak toys with Irene - it's having fun killing her, knowing the primary goal is already achieved - and meaning the blood spit was superfluous (although we already know from The Conjuring 2 that Valak's real weakness is hearing its name).
Afterward, we don't see what happens to Burke and Irene, although the resolution of their character arcs sees their faith rewarded. Unless Taissa Farmiga's casting in The Conjuring series has some greater connection to real life sister Vera, this is probably the last we see of them. The same is not true of Frenchie, who we've actually seen before in the franchise...
Page 2 of 2: How The Nun Connects To The Conjuring
- The Nun (2018) release date: Sep 07, 2018
- Annabelle Comes Home (2019) release date: Jun 26, 2019