A young novitiate wandering through dark catacombs beyond a door with "God Ends Here" scrawled in Latin, a barely perceptible shadowy figure following closely behind. If you didn't twitch once by the end of the trailer for the upcoming Conjuring franchise film The Nun, congratulations, you've managed to numb yourself to the jump-scares so many modern horror movies indulge in. But considering The Conjuring movies are fairly well-respected among horror aficionados, there's clearly more to the latest installment than just sudden cuts. So just how scary is The Nun? Sure, the movie has a solid pedigree, but its actual scariness all comes down to the individual people behind the particular film.
The Nun is directed by Corin Hardy, who has only one movie under his belt before this, an Irish dark fairytale eco-thriller he wrote and directed called The Hallow. That film, about a family attacked by demons after moving deep in the woods, was well-received, and in keeping with the more popular films in the franchise, focused on interpersonal relationships and a sustained creepy atmosphere.
The Nun is a whole different ballgame, and that's due in part to the movie's writers. The film was written by Gary Dauberson, who also penned two other Conjuring movies, Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation. Though the former wasn't a critical hit, its sequel was praised for excellent performances and also sustaining a haunting atmosphere. But with The Nun, Dauberson expands on material that's much closer to his heart.
In an interview with The Gospel Herald, Dauberson spoke about his faith and belief, and how it influenced the Annabelle movies. "I'm a believer, so I believe evil and demonic entities are out there — but so is God, and so is good. Even as dark and scary as these movies can get, there's always that safety net. If evil is true, the opposite must also be true," the writer said. This is the main push and pull behind The Nun; two people on the cusp of belief — a young soon-to-be nun and a priest with a dark past — confronting darkness and risking losing their faith entirely by challenging their belief in inherent good.
The evil they're confronting involves a character previously seen in The Conjuring 2, but with the possibility of an entirely new angle. Bonnie Aarons reprises her role as Valak, the demon who took the form of an evil nun to possess and torment Janet Hodgson. With The Nun, everyone involved is playing coy as to whether the film is really bringing back Valak, or is exploring the persona the demon took on, possibly explaining the full backstory.
With the film's events set in motion by the suicide of a young nun, it's not out of the question the film might focus on a human spirit turned to demonic ends; it's equally possible the Nun will appear in the same form as The Conjuring 2 with no further explanation or history to torment new characters in The Nun. Given the franchise as a whole, it's safe to say the film will likely cause most viewers to jolt in their seats at least once, and leave most of the audience feeling haunted long after the credits roll.