WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Warner Bros.’ The Nun, directed by Corin Hardy, in theaters now.
The Conjuring Universe isn't just one of Hollywood's most successful horror franchises, it's one of the most intriguing overall. The latest installment, Corin Hardy's The Nun, has proven to be a financial hit, continuing to show the storytelling potential of the world kickstarted by James Wan's 2013 film The Conjuring.
Followed by 2014's Annabelle, The Conjuring 2 two years later and last year's Annabelle: Creation (the prequel that made up for the 2014 flick's shortcomings), Warner Bros. has cleverly created a connected horror universe. The Conjuring 2 is actually where the demonic Nun, Valak, debuted. Another ghoulish entity from the film, the Crooked Man, is also due for his own solo outing.
However, with the focus is now shifting to the third Conjuring movie, Annabelle: Creation perfectly laid the groundwork for another spinoff that can be built around its demonic scarecrow.
This prequel, directed by David Sandberg, focused on the origin of the titular doll and the demon that possessed it. The film revolves around the Mullins family in the 1940s, who, still grieving from the loss of their daughter, Bee, open their home to a group of orphans. It turns out this is their way of repenting after trying to summon Bee's spirit years before, only to unleash a demon that they managed to trap in the the doll. Realizing the potential to possess a human body, the demon began attacking the girls, trying to claim a host.
The movie's final act deals with a few of them trying to escape the Mullins household in a truck, only to notice a scarecrow pinned to the wall. As its head begins to turn, it seemingly uses its otherworldly powers to stall the vehicle and then confront the girls in one of the film's scariest scenes, which takes place in a barn. Eventually, they escape and the scarecrow thread is subsequently forgotten. Sandberg never addresses it again, even though the creature is still on the loose.
This presents an ideal opportunity to bring the character back in a film of its own. Warner Bros. can go the prequel route as they did with Annabelle and focus on the backstory of this entity. In Creation, the scariest element of the scarecrow is that audiences saw a separate demon manifesting within the figure, with black hands replacing the farmer's gloves and actually ripping open the face to show sharp, monstrous teeth. It has one of the most horrifying visual aesthetics in the Conjuring Universe, not to mention the way it teleports in the shadows makes for a good jump scare. The creature also displayed telekinetic powers, unscrewing light bulbs out of sockets and whatnot, so it definitely has the supernatural abilities to leave you petrified in your seat.
But what exactly is this being? Sandberg remained vague on it after the movie aired and chalked it up to just being affected by Annabell's dark energy, but, as seen in the other films, when there's a focus on such entities, there's usually deeper meaning and a backstory. The studio can even go the sequel route and deal with where the scarecrow went after Creation. A family could have picked it up and taken it to another farm, or there could be a follow-up movie dealing with the Mullins' acreage years later and under new ownership, with the scarecrow now replacing Annabelle as the haunting entity and preying on unsuspecting victims.
The scarecrow has such a unique, rural kind of vibe to it. It's not just about objects moving in old Victorian houses or modern mansions, it's about cornfields and barns, settings that have a special place in the horror genre. Just ask series like Children of the Corn and Jeepers Creepers.
Diving into the past of this scarecrow or extending its story to the present day (something Messengers 2 tried to do back in 2009 with a scarecrow movie of its own) offers a shot at reviving this niche segment of the horror landscape, adding even more substance to the world Wan started building. The spinoff characters have had success and, just from its brief appearance, it's pretty clear the scarecrow has legs, too. This should be where this macabre universe heads next and, as evidenced by The Nun's current reception, it's a risk the studio can take with confidence.
Directed by Corin Hardy, The Nun stars Demián Bichir, Bonnie Aarons, Taissa Farmiga and Jonas Bloquet. The film is now in theaters everywhere.