The Conjuring 2 is about as ambitious as mainstream horror film get. In addition to the traditional scares, it touches on an iconic case like Amityville, has several characters going through trials both related and unrelated to the central demon, plus there’s media coverage of the events and themes of family.
Walking out of the film though, audiences probably had one big question. It’s related to the film’s central villain and we asked co-writer and director James Wan to clarify how it all worked. It’s a major spoiler so don’t read until you’ve seen the movie.
Early in the film, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) see a vision of a terrifying nun. First she sees it while she’s at Amityville. She then sees it when she’s at home. And finally, it’s revealed that the being haunting Enfield isn’t the old man the film has lead us to believe, it’s the nun herself, using the old man’s spirit.
So, how does that work? Is the entity just following the Warrens everywhere? How does the fact that Lorraine saw the character at Amityville, at home and in Enfield makes sense? Do demons get on planes? The film’s director, James Wan, explained to us.
“Believe me, I was wondering if anyone was going to ask me that. So far I’ve managed to get away scott-free,” Wan said. “Damn you, Germain. But I will kind of explain my reasoning behind that.”
“When she’s at Amityville? It’s not like she’s haunted by a ghost at Amityville, she’s having a premonition of what’s going to happen to her husband in the near-future,” Wan said. “That’s all it is. So she’s seeing what’s going to happen at the end of the movie. The demonic entity that takes on the form of a nun has got nothing to do with Amityville. At all. She’s just having a psychic premonition.”
Which means, when Lorraine sees the nun at their home, she’s just once again foreshadowing what’s going to happen in England.
What’s even more interesting is Wan confirmed the nun character was completely added in reshoots. (Which is a nice counter argument to people who suggest reshoots are bad.)
“I had a strong outlook on the whole movie, but the one thing I wasn’t quite sure of [was the design of the demon character],” Wan said. “I felt like I was still discovering it. And believe it or not, I always knew that I was going to do additional photography. So I was saving it because I was hoping I’d discover what that thing would look like as I was putting the movie together in post-production.”
And sure enough it cements it because the other option would be to do it very CGI-heavy, and I just didn’t want that at all. From talking to [the real] Lorraine in passing, she mentioned a spectral entity that has haunted her in her house. And it’s this swirling tornado vortex with this hooded figure in there, and 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.
“I think it speaks to the filmmaking process,” Wan added. “That it’s such a discovery process. Sometimes you see things, sometimes they’re discovered along the way.”