The Conjuring 2 has been in theaters for over a week now, and behind-the-scenes information about the film is starting to pour in. Maybe the most interesting tidbit that has been revealed, though, is that an astonishingly large portion of what made The Conjuring 2 so successful, including the movie’s primary plot twist and one of its main characters, were only added into the film at the last minute. Director James Wan sat down with i09 to discuss the details.
Disclaimer: Conjuring 2 spoilers abound beyond this point, and fans as well as critics agree that the movie is definitely worth seeing. So if you haven’t watched The Conjuring 2 yet, you should probably stop reading.
The Conjuring 2 was so well-received, in fact, that pretty much everyone agrees it was even better than the first Conjuring film, which was also extremely successful. One of the reasons frequently cited by highly regarded critics such as YouTube content creator Chris Stuckmann for The Conjuring 2‘s extreme effectiveness in comparison to its predecessor is the fact that it had a tangible — and utterly terrifying — antagonist. And we are not talking about Bill Wilkins, the spirit of the old man who owned the house in The Conjuring 2. No, we mean the demon named Valek — the one who looks like a dead nun.
Wan tells i09 that Valek was not even included in the original Conjuring 2 script, though. Originally, Bill Wilkins was to be the big bad, and his defeat would mean the end of the film. Wan continues that his decision to add in Valek — a choice that most would surely agree made The Conjuring 2 a better film — was a product of last-minute inspiration.
“I had a strong outlook on the whole movie, but the one thing I wasn’t quite sure of [was the design of the demon character].” Wan said.
“I felt like I was still discovering it. And believe it or not, I always knew that I was going to do additional photography. So I was saving it because I was hoping I’d discover what that thing would look like as I was putting the movie together in post-production.”
So basically, Wan intentionally left The Conjuring 2 ambiguous in the original script so he would have the option to do a round of reshoots once the initial shooting was over and add in an antagonist that could trump even Bill Wilkins. He had faith that inspiration would come to him, and it certainly did.
It did not hit, though, reports CinemaBlend, until Wan had a conversation toward the end of The Conjuring 2‘s production with the real Lorraine Warren, a ghost hunter who was played by Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring 2. Warren told Wan a religious spirit haunted her during the case documented in The Conjuring 2, and it sparked Wan’s idea to create a nun-like creature to be the real tormentor in The Conjuring 2.
The fact that Valek was only added in post-production means The Conjuring 2‘s major twist — that Valek was only using Bill Wilkins as a pawn to torment the central family — was added at the last minute, too.
The Conjuring 2 twist almost certainly took a lot of inspiration from the first film Wan ever directed, 2004’s Saw. In both films, the figure that the viewer thinks is behind all of the movie’s evil-doing turns out at the end of the film to be a puppet threatened into wicked deeds by the real villain. In Saw it was Zepp being threatened by Jigsaw, and in The Conjuring 2 it was Bill Wilkins being threatened by Valek. In both Saw and Conjuring 2, the twist was insanely effective.
Wan reflected that the fact he could infuse The Conjuring 2 with last-minute inspirations like Valek’s form and her control over Bill Wilkins was a testament to how great his job is.
“I think it speaks to the filmmaking process. That it’s such a discovery process. Sometimes you see things, sometimes they’re discovered along the way.”
What did you think of Valek’s design? And were you blown away by The Conjuring 2‘s twist? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon]