The Nun is the latest chapter in the Conjuring's horrifying shared universe, and it centers around an oh-so-familiar threat. Valak, the demon nun who has been raining death and destruction down around Ed and Lorraine Warren, is back, this time with a prequel origin story to give a little order to the demonic chaos. And like last year's Annabelle: Creation before it, The Nun both stands on its own and relates to the Conjuring franchise as a whole.
This of course begs the question: Where exactly does The Nun fit into the Conjuring Universe's bigger picture? It's all a bit more complex than saying The Nun slots into one part of the timeline. To really make sense of where Valak, the demon nun in question belongs in all of this, we're going to have to handle things a bit out of order, starting not from the beginning, but with the sequel.
The Conjuring 2
Valak's first confirmed appearance was actually back in 2016's The Conjuring 2, which brought Ed and Lorraine Warren to England to investigate what they thought was a nasty poltergeist. But rather than a ghost, they found Valak, who had been puppeteering not one, but two individual entities before ultimately revealing itself like the world's spookiest Matryoshka doll.
The first ghost Valak "impersonated" in the England case was an old man named Bill Wilkins who had died in the house. Janet Hodgeson, one of the young girls living in the house, had been experiencing increasingly violent nightmares and visions before the Warrens were called in, claiming she kept seeing an angry man who insisted the house belonged to him.
However, after the Warrens began their investigation, Janet's visions of the man became more and more monstrous, slowly evolving into "the crooked man," an inhuman spirit who seemed to be a mutated form of Wilkins who sought to infect Janet and drive the Hodgesons out of the house. But once the case was fully underway and the pieces began to fall into place, it was revealed that there was actually no such thing as "the crooked man" and the spirit of Bill Wilkins wasn't actually reaching out in anger--he was reaching out for help. Something else had invaded the house and had been puppeteering Bill's spirit as a disguise. That thing just so happened to be Valak, a demon that Lorraine had been experiencing visions of for a while.
Those visions actually dated back to the Warrens working with the Amityville house, though Valak's presence wasn't explicitly stated in that case. Lorraine just had a stark vision of a demon nun--an image that she, inexplicably, decided to paint for some reason--that deeply unsettled her. The nightmares kept coming, even after they put Amityville in the rearview and, eventually, they coalesced enough for Lorraine to know the demon's name, which she scribbled out in a trance on the pages of a bible.
It was knowing Valak's name that ultimately saved the Hodgesons once all the puzzle pieces had been sorted out and Lorraine successfully (or so we hope) was able to banish Valak back to Hell.
The story was far from over, however, and for more we have to jump back even further.
Taking place in the early 40s, before the first Annabelle prequel and well before the start of the first Conjuring movie, Annabelle: Creation was essentially an origin story for Annabelle, the demonic doll that had been featured in the Warren's collection and also in its own solo spin off movie. Here, we learned that the actual demonic entity attached to the Annabelle doll had been invited into the world by a grieving family who had lost their daughter in a tragic accident. This demon really kicked things into high gear when the family opened their home to a troupe of orphans under the care of a group of--wait for it--nuns.
Valak isn't actually in Annabelle: Creation--at least not directly--but it does show up in a photo presented by one of the nuns, Sister Charlotte, who spent some time at "a monastery in Romania" but has no recollection of who the odd looking nun in the photo might be. Later, the post-credits scene features Valak in the flesh, stalking the halls of the monastery alone in the year 1952--which is when The Nun takes place.
The Nun spoilers below! You have been warned.
The Conjuring and The Nun
The Nun takes place in 1952, zeroing in on the events surrounding Valak's escape from its holy prison, preceding the demon's invasion of the Warrens' life. Things come full circle when it's revealed at the very end of The Nun that "Frenchie," the plucky expat who winds up secretly possessed, was actually the man on whom Ed and Lorraine performed an exorcism before the events of the first Conjuring movie, shown in one of their college lectures.
It was the events caught on tape during this exorcism that prompted a major scare for Ed and Lorraine. During the proceedings, Lorraine was grabbed by Maurice ("Frenchie to his friends" Ed explains in a line added to the scene for The Nun) which prompted her to have a vision so distressing and terrible, she withdrew into herself for days at a time. The whole thing terrified Ed so much he considered quitting the supernatural business entirely--to the point where he almost refused to help the Perron family and their struggle against the entity in their home.
The Conjuring 3, The Crooked Man, and The Future
Now, the first Conjuring takes place in the late '60s and early '70s, while the Conjuring 2 takes place in the late '70s, meaning that Valak had been unleashed and moving freely in the world for almost two decades before Lorraine was able to banish it--possibly longer, if you start to extrapolate a bit on Sister Charlotte's experience in the '40s. This makes it one of the most consistent manipulative and inciting forces in the Conjuring Universe at large, even if it's not always obviously responsible for the events of each movie. It also means that Valak's influence could be far from over, even after it was ultimately defeated. Twenty plus years is a long time to have been uncaged and unnoticed--who can really say what the demon might have gotten up to while flying under the radar?
It's unlikely that Valak's time in the spotlight is done.The next Conjuring spinoff movie is reported to be The Crooked Man, the creature Valak disguised itself as in The Conjuring 2--which means we're either about to get yet another Valak focused story, or we're about to learn what Valak's relationship to the "real" Crooked Man actually is, assuming there is a "real" Crooked Man at all.
We don't know much about The Conjuring 3, so it's difficult to say if Valak's influence will continue to be felt in the main Warren-focused movies. Lorraine seemed pretty successful in her exorcism, but then again, so did Irene in The Nun. Also, given the non-linear progression of the franchise, it's entirely possible that the next Conjuring could be set before the other two, and potentially even fill in that ten year gap between the end of The Nun and the start of The Conjuring.