The True Story Behind ‘The Nun’ Will Haunt Your Nightmares Forever

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Halloween isn’t just a holiday—it’s our entire October mood. So celebrate the best time of year with a month’s worth of stories that will keep you up all night long. (Binge-watching and eating candy, probably. Same, tbh.) Cheers, witches!


The Nun is so scary that YouTube actually banned the trailer because it was traumatizing people thanks to moments like this:

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So it’d be ideal if the movie wasn’t based on a real story, but sorry! No such luck—the horror flick is indeed inspired by a handful of true events.

If you haven’t yet seen The Nun because you cherish your ability to fall sleep, allow me to give you a brief recap. The film follows a nun named Sister Irene who travels to Romania to investigate a creepy incident at a monastery involving an ~entity~ called Valak. The story serves as a very disturbing prequel to The Conjuring, another freaky movie based on the real case files of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, which begs the question…

IS ‘THE NUN’ ALSO BASED ON THE WARRENS’ WORK?

Kinda. The couple’s son Tony Spera told Esquire.com that his parents did come face-to-(ghostly)-face with a phantom nun while visiting a haunted English church in the ’70s. The nun had apparently been buried alive in the church walls as punishment for having an affair with a monk—so like, no wonder she haunts the place.

“Is The Nun based on that experience?” Spera entertained the question. “I think Hollywood takes bits and pieces of different stories and puts them together…They couldn’t just come up with [The Nun] out of the blue.”

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Director James Wan, for his part, says that The Nun was inspired by a demon that haunted Lorraine Warren’s home, which she once described as a “swirling tornado vortex with this hooded figure.” Wan built on Warren’s description of the demon when he first created the nun character for The Conjuring 2:

I remember hearing that and my first thought was, ‘Oh crap, that’s going to be a CGI character.’ I didn’t want to do that. And so, it kind of took me a while to cement in my head what this vision was. And it came across eventually in a very organic way. Because it is a demonic vision that haunts her, that only attacks her, I wanted something that would attack her faith. Something that would threaten the safety of her husband. And so that was eventually how the idea of this very iconographic image of a holy icon cemented in my head.

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OKAY, SO IS THIS “VALAK” THING REAL?

YUP! That is, if you believe in demons! Though it has never taken the form of a nun before, Valak has shown up in several magic books, including The Lesser Key of Solomon, which dates back to the mid 17th century. The book describes Valak like this:

He is a President Mighty and Great, and appeareth like a Child with Angel’s Wings, riding on a Two-headed Dragon. His Office is to give True Answers of Hidden Treasures, and to tell where Serpents may be seen. The which he will bring unto the Exorciser without any Force or Strength being by him employed. He governeth 38 Legions of Spirits, and his Seal is thus.”

Cool-cool-cool.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to believe that parts of The Nun are based on fact, but I’m probably just gonna err on the side of caution and never enter a convent again. Also, it might be a good idea to avoid all children with angel wings riding on a two-headed dragon. Goodbye!

Listen To – I Don’t Care By Simi

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