Ed and Lorraine Warren were a perfectly normal, perfectly average couple - on the outside. Hailing from Connecticut, they met as teenagers when Ed worked at a theater and Lorraine and her mother would visit once a week. They married at age 17, while Ed was on a 30-day leave from his Navy deployment.
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After the Navy, Ed went to art school for a couple years, and the pair began selling his paintings. They started traveling through New England tourist traps, selling his art. Along the way, Ed began dragging Lorraine to any house he heard was haunted. As a child, he grew up in a haunted house, and he was fascinated by the subject. Most of these haunted houses were normal homes with normal families living in them. Ed would paint the house with ghosts coming out of it, then Lorraine would deliver the painting to the homeowners and get them talking. More often than not, they would be invited into the house and were able to speak to the homeowners one-on-one.
The Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952, the oldest "ghost hunting" group in New England, but it wasn't until 1965, while investigating a home haunted by a little girl, looking for her mother, that they decided they wanted to start helping people. The Warrens used a mixture of religious and scientific methods to explore the hauntings.
In The Conjuring Universe, the demon nun has plagued Lorraine since she and Ed worked on an earlier case, where she had a vision of the nun luring Ed to his own death by impalement.
Valak, the nun who haunted Lorraine, is the subject of the upcoming film, The Nun. Set in a Romanian convent in 1952, a priest and a novitiate are sent by the Vatican to investigate the suicide of a nun and the "unholy" secrets of the order.
Demian Bichir stars as Father Burke, and Taissa Farmiga plays Sister Irene. Despite the fact that she is the younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring films, the two characters have no connection whatsoever.
The Nun is being called The Darkest Chapter in the franchise and will reveal the full origins of the demon nun, Valek, whom we first met in The Conjuring 2.
One of the Warren's most famous cases is that of the Annabelle doll. The story goes that a nursing student was gifted a Raggedy Ann doll in 1970. After the doll began to "behave" strangely (like move on its own), a psychic told her the doll was possessed by the spirit of a little girl named Annabelle Higgins.
The student and her roommate took pity on Annabelle and did nothing to exorcise her spirit. But then a friend claimed that the doll strangled him into blacking out, then later attacked him, leaving wounds that healed after two days.
The Warrens came into the picture and determined that the doll was not possessed, but being controlled by an inhuman presence. If the doll had stayed with the girls for two or three more weeks, the "presence" would have possessed the residents, said the Warrens.
The Warrens took the doll with them and the problems continued. Their car repeatedly came close to crashing until Ed doused it with holy water. At home, the doll would levitate and move through the house on its own. The Warrens eventually had a special case built for the doll, where it resides to this day.
Lorraine believes the doll is responsible for the death of a young man. He was mocking the doll when he and his girlfriend visited the Warrens' Occult Museum, until Ed threw them out. He was reportedly killed in a motorcycle crash on the way home.
The story of how the Warrens met the Annabelle doll was shown in the first The Conjuring film. It was such a chilling story - and became a fan-favorite part of the film - that it was the subject of two films: Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation.
Annabelle: Creation tells the history of the doll. Carved by a toymaker in 1943 to honor his daughter Annabelle, who was killed in a car accident, the toymaker and his wife prayed to see Annabelle's spirit just one last time. The entity who answered their prayers takes possession of the doll, and when the couple realizes the mistake they made, they lock the doll in a closet lined with Bible pages
In order to make up for the hell they have wrought, in 1955, they take in six orphaned girls and their caretaker when their orphanage is destroyed. The Annabelle doll gets out, possesses one of the girls, and all hell breaks loose.
As the film ends, the possessed girl escapes, takes up the moniker Annabelle, and is adopted by the Higgins family. Twelve years later, Annabelle joins a Satanic cult and, along with her boyfriend, kills her adoptive parents... who happen to be the next door neighbors of the Forms.
The first Annabelle film is set in 1967, and tells the story of the Forms, the family that the doll terrorized immediately before we met it in The Conjuring. In Annabelle, the possessed girl, Annabelle, commits suicide in the Forms' nursery, while clutching the porcelain Annabelle doll. With the doll possessed, it wreaks havoc on the Form family.
In 1971, The Warrens were called to assist the Perron family in Rhode Island, which would eventually become the basis of The Conjuring. The Perrons moved into an 18th century farmhouse, and almost immediately began experiencing ghostly visions, doors slamming shut on their own, and the odor of decaying flesh. The Perrons didn't initially seek out the Warrens; another paranormal group brought them in.
The Warrens determined that a Satanist named Bathsheba Sherman lived on the property in the early 19th century. She murdered her own daughter as a ritual sacrifice, then took her own life - but not before she cursed the property and anyone who lived there.
The Warrens' time with the Perrons culminated with a séance in which Mrs. Perron was possessed by Bathsheba. (In the film, this was portrayed as something closer to an exorcism.) Mr. Perron eventually threw the Warrens out of the house, claiming the demonic activity was worse when they were around. The Perrons lived there for several years more.
Andrea Perron, the oldest of the five Perron daughters, said in an interview that "some elements of the film are very accurate and some are fiction." One of the most iconic parts of the film is the game of "hide and clap," which combines elements of hide and seek and Marco Polo. While this makes for a haunting visual within the film, it does not appear that this was a game frequently played in the Perron house.
In 1977, single-mother-to-four Peggy Hodgson first heard and saw chests of drawers moving and opening on their own, as well as knocking coming from within the walls. In The Conjuring 2, it was because of the Warrens' involvement in Amityville that Peggy called them to investigate. However, Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the original paranormal investigators on the case, claims that the Warrens arrived there, uninvited, and only stayed a day.
In The Conjuring 2, second-oldest child Janet is possessed by a man who calls himself Bill Wilkins, who had previously lived - and died - in the house. He was tormenting the Hodgson family because he wanted his home back. In reality, audio recordings of Janet show her speaking in a deep voice and claiming the name Bill Wilkins. Wilkins was, in fact, a real person who lived and died in the Hodgson home.
Another paranormal investigator in the film catches Janet faking some of the haunting activity, which causes the Warrens to leave. (In actuality, Janet did admit to faking a few of the activities, but promises that 95% of what happened was real.) But once the Warrens leave, Lorraine soon realizes that the demonic nun who has haunted her since the Amityville case has been using Bill as a pawn. When the Warrens return to the Hodgson home, Janet is once again possessed and Ed ventures into the home, alone, to save Janet.
Whatever demons are possessing Janet are threatening to throw her out a window, but when Ed reaches her, they are both at risk of falling out the window and impaling themselves on a broken tree stump - one that looked suspiciously like the one from Lorraine's vision.
In one of Lorraine's visions of the nun, she is told the nun's name - Valak - and uses this knowledge to address the demon directly, thereby breaking the spell of possession on Janet and saving both Janet and Ed's lives. The real-life Janet says that the haunting effectively stopped after a priest visited their home in 1978. To see the full origins of Valak though, see The Nun in theaters on September 7!