*Spoilers ahead for the ending of The Nun*
Did you work up the nerve to check out Corin Hardy‘s The Nun? The latest entry in James Wan‘s Jump Scare-iverse—that also includes a pair of Conjuring and Annabelle films—takes things back to 1952 Romania to explore the origins of the yellow-eyed demonic nun Valak that plagued Lorraine Warren’s (Vera Farmiga) visions in The Conjuring 2 and lurked in the back of photos during Annabelle: Creation. Before we get to the upside down crosses, 20-year time jumps, and body-swapping demons of The Nun‘s ending, a quick recap: Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), Father Burke (Demián Bichir), and a friendly local French-Canadian named Frenchy (Jonas Bloquet) have seemingly banished Valak to the fires from whence he came using a vial of Jesus Christ’s blood. (I assume every convent has one.) With the Cârța Monastery restored to sanctity, our holy heroes ride off into the Romanian sunset, with Frenchy—real name Maurice—voicing his desire to become a farmer. A quick shot reveals an upside-down cross—basically Valak’s house sigil—embedded in Maurice’s neck. Flash-forward 20 years to…a scene from The Conjuring. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren deliver a lecture on possession at Massachusetts Western University while Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) looks on from the audience.
The subject: Maurice, “a French Canadian farmer” with “nothing more than a third-grade education” who suddenly “spoke some of the best Latin” Ed Warren ever heard. We see Maurice, in grainy footage, grab a screaming Lorraine as The Nun cuts to credits.
There’s a reason Hardy and screenwriter Gary Dauberman don’t reveal Frenchy’s real name until the end: Maurice Theriault was a real Massachusetts farmer who the equally real Ed and Lorraine Warren believed to be a bonafide case of demonic possession in the 1980’s (The Conjuring fudges with the years a bit).
Here is Ed Warren speaking to The Republican about the Theriault case in 2016:
“Maurice Theriault would bleed from his eyes. During the exorcism his head split open and we have that on film. Boil eruptions appeared on his skin, and crosses appeared all over his body…If it was mental illness or a fake, why did tables rise off the floor? We put him in a hospital for six weeks and the doctors couldn’t explain it.”
The Warrens called in an exorcism—the footage of which we see in The Conjuring and The Nun—which was covered in the 1990 book Satan’s Harvest, co-written by the Warrens, Boston Globe journalists Michael Lasalandra and Mark Merenda, and Theriault himself. Tragically, in 1992, Theriault wounded his wife with a shotgun and took his own life.
What the Conjuring Universe posits is that Theriault was actually possessed by Valak, who slithered his way into the French-Canadian in the closing moments of The Nun. During Theriault’s exorcism, Valak—also known as The Profane and the Marquis of Snakes, a true multi-hyphenate demon—appeared in Lorraine Warren’s visions for the first time. Valak then chilled out in the shadows for a bit, being evil and such, until the events of The Conjuring 2.