When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate.
Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned. “The Nun” stars Oscar-nominated Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) as Father Burke, Taissa Farmiga (TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Sister Irene, and Jonas Bloquet (“Elle”) as local villager French.
We caught up with director Corin Hardy to talk all things The Nun. Check out our interview after the jump.
I read that The Nun is based on the film The Name of The Rose, can you tell us what aspects of the film that it’s based on? And if it’s also based on any other horror films?
Corin Hardy: It wasn’t based on The Name of The Rose, it was, there was some influences and inspirations that James and Gary, when they were writing the story The Name of The Rose, I mean, I haven’t seen that for a long time but I remember it was Sean Connery and Christian Slater film and it’s about, you know, Sean Connery’s a priest and he gets hired to go and investigate like a murder in an Abbey, so I think this was a cooler idea, I think, to riff off that, to take it in a supernatural direction. I made, like a kind of mood book when I got the movie and just put down as many inspirations and movies and art that I kind of drew from when I read the script to give a sense of the lighting and cinematography. I would do this on my movies and kind of show the production design as DOP, so it contained that element of Black Narcissus and Copula’s Dracula barred from movies. The lighting kind of like bold compositions in those films and, Nightmare on Elm Street. It was sort of iconic imagery that we’ve seen and then applying that to sort of period gothic horror movie. So, and obviously The Exorcist, you can’t sort of ignore, and The Exorcist 3 particularly is a film that doesn’t really get talked about enough but is also a pretty brilliant and one of the greatest scares of all time. I tried definitely pay it a little homage to it in my film. Yeah, it was classic gothic horror and I grew up watching ham horror movies as a kid, monster movies and Salem’s Lot, realizing that I suddenly had this opportunity to make a classic old-school gothic horror movie in 2018. Suddenly became really exciting because it was, I wanted something kind of timeless, contemporary in a sense, but also it didn’t feel like it was being done much now. Not making a spoof or anything like that, I was doing it with a lot of love. Yeah, it sort of dawned on me, when I was shooting it and Damien and Tyeese and Jonas, they first started shooting, we were up in Transylvania at the foot of the castle surrounded by crosses, blowing smoke through it and I suddenly was looking through the lens and I was like Whoa we’re making a gothic horror movie aren’t we?
Why are nuns so scary?
Corin Hardy: My mother’s aunt was a nun in England and she was lovely and very jolly, but I was sort of freaked out more just by, I suppose there’s obviously a practice, and there’s a holiness, and a mystery about what they do and what goes on in the convent and, I mean, for me, seeing The Conjuring 2 and that character seemed to sort of steal the show in a way. It just felt really iconic straight away. I love black on white and contrast, and shapes, and angles and I think just the nun habit was almost like a shark fin to me that was, I saw her as a shark and the convent as an ocean and she can sort of lurk in the shadows, she can drift in the corridors, she can hide. You don’t know if that’s a good nun or a bad nun until you like sort of turn around and see her. But then, also of course, the concept of anything that is meant to be trustworthy and good and holy is turned upside down and it’s anything but that is a great sort of basis for a horror villain because it’s a deceiver and it’s a demon that can trick your mind and is inhabiting something that is so good.
Did you guys have any consultants from the Vatican or did you talk to someone had really done exorcisms or something or?
Corin Hardy: I was scared that I was going to make something happen, I didn’t tell you that I was like, training all my life. No, I mean, we, again Gary and James had written the script. We had a real Roman Catholic priest come and bless the set, they do that on the Conjuring movies. It sounded funny, it sounded like a gimmick and yet, when they came, he brought all of his chaplain kit, and he had his holy water and it actually felt quite comforting to know that he was performing this quite long, twenty-minute ritual on the grounds of the castle. I was sort of taking photos and he flung a big load of holy water in my face, some hit me in the eye, and I felt particularly safe. I said to him, “so are we… what has this done? Are we safe now?” And he spoke only in Romanian and he looked at me, really dead serious, and said something to me. The translator said he said you’re safe if you believe. I sort of went “Oh okay.”
Have you ever been inspired by Latin America in terms of horrors or monsters?
Corin Hardy: I mean, yeah, absolutely, but I’m very much, I’ve grown up in England. I haven’t, this is my first time in Mexico City, I came on holiday and to learn and that was a little bit different. When I was creating my film The Hallow, it was trying to tell like a fairy folklore story based on real beliefs in fairy mythology. There were versions of that I was looking at telling around the world, so I researched a lot of folklore in Mexico and Ireland and those certain area’s that are rich for it. I’ve never had the opportunity yet to tell one, and I suppose Guillermo (Del Toro) is like a big inspiration and I’ve learned a lot through his films, through Devils Backbone, Pans Labyrinth, and Cronos, and the way he speaks about mythology and monsters and stuff is just very passionate. I feel the same.
Will we see the nun in Conjuring 3?
Corin Hardy: Dude, I can’t tell you anything. I’d be ejected from the universe, but yeah, if people like this movie then there are definitely more stories to tell. In Conjuring, you can go anywhere with that and I love the idea of Father Burke or Sister Irene on some further adventures; without spoiling, of course, whether they survive or not.
Were you given any parameters now that this is part of The Conjuring or where you have to stay in this or was there any advice?
Corin Hardy: It was more like a given, really, The parameters as I understood them because I am a fan of those movies and I wasn’t going to sort of like try and take it somewhere completely different. But I also, I mean James and Gary both said from the start we want this to be, and that’s what is great actually to hear, but we were really pleased with The Conjuring movies and the Annabelle movies and we don’t want to keep repeating anything. We want to take it somewhere different which is what made me sign onto the job, it was almost like a fresh, new Conjuring movie. So we talked and we would collaborate and Gary was there also, we’d sometimes were like are you sure that this adds up to this and then we wanted to get into that and little things like continuity things that we wanted to make sure we got right. Connect with the movies and also within the film the rules within it, and so it was collaborative.