How Valak Became the Unplanned Face of ‘The Conjuring’ Series

The enigmatic and haunting figure Valak, also recognized as “That Creepy Nun From the Conjuring Movies,” has swiftly risen from a secondary role in The Conjuring 2 to headline her own films, two Nun installments to be precise. What makes this figure so intriguing, and why was she chosen as the main antagonist? Let’s delve deeper into the history and journey of Valak in the Conjuring franchise.

Valak’s Pop Culture Significance

Valak’s introduction and rapid ascent to horror stardom aren’t entirely surprising. After all, popular culture has a long-standing obsession with eerie and unsettling portrayals of nuns, a symbol otherwise associated with piety and sainthood. There’s an undeniable allure in watching something as sacrosanct as a nun being used for chilling or even salacious purposes.

Yet, what’s most intriguing about Valak is that she wasn’t the original antagonist intended for The Conjuring 2. In fact, her inclusion was somewhat last-minute, replacing another monster that was initially slated to take the spotlight.

The Original Monster of ‘The Conjuring 2’

Shortly after the blockbuster success of The Conjuring 2, The Hollywood Reporter unveiled a surprising detail: Valak was introduced to the film a mere three months prior to its cinematic release in March 2016. It wasn’t a studio decision but rather one made by director James Wan, who believed the movie’s supernatural villain could be intensified. This bold move necessitated significant reshoots and adjustments, especially to some of the film’s central scary scenes. However, Warner Bros./New Line Cinema saw the potential and quickly sanctioned a spin-off movie centered around this abruptly introduced character.

The Villain That Almost Was

James Wan, in October 2020, used his Instagram platform to shed light on the original antagonist for The Conjuring 2. Initially, the film was to feature a menacing demon, inspired by designs for the character Dracula from a shelved Castlevania project. This initial foe, characterized by an intimidating presence devoid of vibrant colors and covered in horns, was intended to be the embodiment of nightmares. A sophisticated animatronic suit was even developed to bring this entity to life. However, during post-production, Wan felt that such an otherworldly figure was out of place in a Conjuring movie. He wanted a villain that resonated more closely with Lorraine Warren’s (played by Vera Farmiga) faith, culminating in the creation of the sinister Valak, portrayed by Bonnie Aarons.

Why Valak Was the Right Villain for the Franchise

The eeriness of Valak isn’t just because she’s a corrupted representation of a nun. There’s an uncanny resemblance between Valak and The Bride in Black, a primary antagonist from James Wan’s earlier horror venture, Insidious. Both characters, despite being from separate franchises, share strikingly similar physical features, raising questions about Wan’s inspiration.

However, Wan’s consistent theme for the Conjuring series has been realism, always aiming to present foes that are distinctly human in appearance. While the original demon could have provided a more visually captivating villain for The Conjuring 2, the choice to incorporate Valak was a masterstroke in terms of marketing and building a coherent brand image for the series. The sinister nun provides a recognizable face, enabling the series to explore spin-offs, merchandise, and establish visual cohesion with other James Wan horror titles.

In the grand scheme of things, Valak might not be the most uniquely designed horror villain, but her simplicity and familiarity make her the perfect fit for the Conjuring universe. Sometimes, the most unsettling horrors are those that are closest to reality.