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Is the Nun based on a true story? Meet the demon who inspired the film

The Conjuring's main villain and The Nun 2 star Valak actually has a very real and terrifying inspiration. Here's the true demon behind the hit horror movies.

The Nun true story: a close-up of Valak in the Conjuring movies

Ever since 2013, The Conjuring movies have delighted all of us scarehounds with tales of ghosts, ghouls, and hellish forces. Any follower of the cinematic franchise knows that all the films in the main series are ‘based on true events,’ retelling the spooky cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. But out of every The Conjuring villain, one figure reigns supreme: Valak. And, unfortunately for all of us who are susceptible to nightmares, the fictional demon in The Nun isn’t as ‘make-believe’ as we’d like him to be.

Like all of The Conjuring movies, the villain of Valak first came about due to a recount from the Warrens. While talking with director James Wan, Lorraine shared how she believed she was being haunted by an entity that looked like a “swirling tornado vortex with this hooded figure.” Wan took this description and eventually evolved it into the image of the nun, who has appeared in multiple Conjuring movies and even kickstarted a spin-off series with The Nun 2, out in cinemas now.

If you rewatch all The Conjuring movies in order, you’ll see an eerie nun with yellow eyes pop up occasionally – often helping lesser demons (like Annabelle) possess their targets during the Warren’s cases. But in the 2018 prequel movie, The Nun, we get full confirmation that this terrifying figure is actually a demon named Valak who was previously trapped in a Romanian Monastery until the World War bombings released it from its shackles.

Now, you may be sighing in relief hearing that the creepy nun was created by Hollywood. After all, unlike other Conjuring movies which are based on the Warren’s experiences, the nun was a creative product that evolved into the IP’s central villain. But before you let your guard down, while the look of the Nun was crafted by Wan, the demon haunting Lorraine in the films and terrorizing Sister Irene in The Nun has real-life roots and is an exceptionally powerful creature in Christian mythology.

That’s right, Valak (depending on whether you believe in devils or not) is real. Valak has been around for centuries, with his name appearing in several goetic grimoires and texts such as The Lesser Key of Solomon. He was often summoned by humans, with his most well-known appearance being depicted as a young boy with angel wings riding a two-headed dragon. So yeah, a far cry from The Nun’s more toned-down and religious look. But hey, dragons aren’t for everyone, right?

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Valak is also famously one of the Grand Presidents of Hell who commands legions of demons and monsters, too. If you need to be more intimidated, the demon is also known as the ‘Marquis of Snakes’, letting him locate and control serpents on command. This snake motif is seen in the first Nun movie, as Valak possesses Maurice via a serpent and also kills a few folks with the reptiles.

It should be noted that snakes are one of the only things the nun and the real Valak have in common, though. With the recent Nun 2 release date, the Conjuring Universe does step further away from the original depiction of him, hinting that he is instead a fallen angel – something never mentioned in mythology. Valak, despite his angel wings, has never been a resident of heaven, and to be honest, we doubt that he’d ever be a Grand President of hell with that righteous blemish on his CV.

Valak in mythology would also often take the form of young children to try and entice humans to commit sins. He was a big fan of using temptation instead of straight-out fear and jump scares. But in The Nun and The Nun 2, the demon takes on a religious appearance to mock those with faith and torture their resolve. Yes, it is devilish but a bit out of tune with Valak’s typical methods of damnation.

The Nun 2 true story: an illustration of the real Valak

This choice of appearance was confirmed by Wan to be more centered around Lorraine’s dark entity rather than Valak himself. So, he was turned into a murderous devotee of Christ for franchise purposes. “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,” Wan explained.

“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.”

So there you have it, The Nun and The Nun 2 aren’t based on any true stories, but Valak – the main villain in the film – is. However, for now, at least, Hollywood has given us a watered-down version of the impressive hellish force. But who knows? If we ever get a Nun 3 movie, maybe we will finally get to see Valak leading his legions of minions on the Warrens.

The Nun true story: Valak haunting Irene in The Nun

Fingers crossed, because who doesn’t love a good cinematic battle? The Evil Dead movies gave us Army of Darkness. It’s time The Conjuring movies gave us Army of the Nuns.

For more on the film, you can read our The Nun 2 review and check out the complete list of The Nun 2 cast list. We also have plenty more quality picks for you to enjoy with our list of the best movies, the best horror movies, and all the new movies that you need to know.

Finally, if you want more spooky tales, read our articles on Halloween’s true story, Freddy Krueger’s true story, and the sad true story of the Conjuring witch Bathsheba.