The Big Picture
- Director Michael Chaves used practical effects, inspired by French street photography, to create a haunting sequence involving a newsstand in The Nun II.
- Despite encountering challenges during filming, including mechanical failures, the visually striking effect was successfully achieved with some additional visual effects.
- The Nun II, the eighth movie in the Conjuring franchise, is currently playing in theaters.
The Nun II opened in theaters this weekend, bringing audiences back to the terrifying world of the Conjuring franchise. Valak (Bonnie Aarons), the demon who chooses to appear in the form of a nun, has returned with a new evil plan in mind. One of the scariest sequences from the sequel, which can be seen in the trailer for the release, involves the demon using the vision of a newsstand to make Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) aware that it’s coming to get her. During a recent interview with Collider’s Perri Nemiroff, director Michael Chaves, talked about the inspiration behind the almost entirely-practical effect:
“I was looking at all this street photography from France in the ‘50s, and there was, I think it was René Maltête, he’s a French photographer, and he’d do this visual kind of trickery with his photos, but it was all in camera, and I just thought it would be cool if the Nun was manifesting in the environment. And then I would see these old newsstands, and so I had this idea. I was like, ‘I want the Nun to appear within a newsstand.'”
The filmmaker further explained his thought process behind the haunting visual effect: “And I was thinking, ‘Maybe it’s like a flip book. Maybe it’s like each magazine is like a flip book, and then it’s a collage, and they’re all kind of coming together…We should print all these magazines and then mechanically rig them all to turn, and we blow some with wind, and then some of them are a little bit more controlled.’ And that got us, like, 50% of the way there.” Chaves revealed that the process wasn’t without its obstacles, saying: “But then some of the mechanical rigging would break, and we were shooting at night. It was like the whole thing was falling apart. It’s like, ‘This will never work!’ So there was some visual effects supplementing it in the end. But it was really a beast. I mean, just from how it would manifest. It was trickier than it looks. [Laughs]”
In the sequel to the 2018 spinoff, it’s been years since the occasion when Sister Irene first attempted to send Valak back to the depths of hell. While the experience left a mark on her spirit, she’s focused on the new chapter of her life, spending time with Sister Debra (Storm Reid) in an institution that respects both her and her work. However, when high-ranking members of the church begin dying one by one, the pure-hearted nun must step up to battle the forces of evil once again.
Why Does Valak Look Like a Nun?
Ever since the character was introduced in The Conjuring 2, viewers have been intrigued by how a demon chooses to manifest itself in the form of a nun. According to the human characters of the franchise, Valak manifests itself in that way to make fun of its victims’ faith. While Sister Irene is in charge of battling the terrifying presence during the spinoff prequels, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) first fought against it in the main franchise, proving how strong the demon can be if left unchecked.
The Nun II is currently playing in theaters. Don’t miss Nemiroff’s full conversation with Chaves, and in the meantime, you can check out Samantha Coley‘s review of the horror sequel on Collider.