Before the release of The Nun, many fans wondered exactly how this chapter in Blumhouse's Conjuring franchise would fit into the spooky expanded universe. One major question on many fans' minds: Exactly how Taissa Farmiga's character, nun-to-be Sister Irene, would come into play — especially since she looks suspiciously like The Conjuring's paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren, portrayed onscreen by Taissa's real-life big sister Vera Farmiga.
How these two characters are connected may surprise you — but first, major spoilers for The Nun ahead.
The Nun is a spin-off of The Conjuring 2, with the habit-wearing demon Valak (played by Bonnie Aarons) as the film's antagonist. In The Conjuring 2, Lorraine sees visions of the demonic entity, eventually coming face-to-face with the evil. The Nun reveals exactly how Lorraine became haunted by Valak in the first place.
In The Nun, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is invited to visit an abbey proclaimed "unholy" by the residents of the Romania town in which it resides. French-Canadian farmer "Frenchie" (Jonas Bloquet) has found the body of a nun who died by suicide, and Sister Irene and priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir) must make sure nothing too foul is happening with the cloistered sisters of the convent. The reason that Sister Irene is on this journey, despite never having seen the territory of Romania, is because she's had visions of spirits since she was a little girl — which, as fans of The Conjuring may remember, is very similar to Lorraine's own history.
Once Sister Irene and Father Burke get to the abbey, it takes them a whole three minutes to figure out that things are anything but fine. Valak has taken hold, and is decapitating Jesus statues left and right — as well as, umm, straight-up murdering the other nuns. A battle with the demon commences, and it nearly kills Sister Irene. Fortunately, at the last moment, Frenchie is able to help save the nun, and everyone rides off into the sunset via his horse and buggy.
At this point in the story, you may be wondering exactly when the shoe would drop and reveal that Sister Irene and Lorraine were the same person. The timeline vaguely works, as the events of The Nun take places in 1952, and the action within The Conjuring begins in the '70s.
The biggest twist in The Conjuring universe is that, despite the fact that these two real-life sisters look a lot alike, their characters are, at least as far as we know, completely unrelated.
It's not Sister Irene who bridges the gap between The Nun and The Conjuring, but Frenchie, whom, in the last moments of The Nun, is revealed to be possessed by Valak. When The Nun flashes forward, we see that Frenchie is actually someone that the Warrens helped exorcise years later — and that this is how the demon Valak found its way to Lorraine in the first place.
"There are many things that connect this movie to the Conjuring world, and in fact I think that maybe people would think it would be Sister Irene," Hardy told the outlet. "If you pay attention... [Frenchie] is a French-Canadian delivery man, and when we meet him Father Burke says 'Maurice,' and [Maurice] says 'My friends call me Frenchie.' If you watch The Conjuring, Patrick Wilson [who plays Ed Warren] explains that Maurice is a French-Canadian farmer, and he's become possessed."
Whether there are any other connections between The Nun and the rest of the Conjuring universe remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: When it comes to this horror franchise, expect the unexpected.