Picture a nun in your head. A nice, perhaps older woman, with a kind smile and advice for any situation you might need help with. Now erase all of that because in the world of horror, nuns are not to be trusted. If anyone had a penchant for bad habits in scary movies, it’d be easy pickings to use a member of the church. Such pictures of righteousness and good nature are not only easy targets for evil, but amazing hiding places for entities with bad intentions.
And latest installment of The Conjuring franchise, aptly titled The Nun – ain’t the only bad habit in these parts. We’ve got a whole list of the creepiest nuns in horror, that are truly bad to the bone.
Blind Nun in The Devil Inside (2012)
This nun made the biggest impression in the shortest amount of time. As a camera crew follows a woman searching for answers about her possessed mother, their car passes a group of nuns on a Roman street. One nun in particular follows the car the length of their passing, staring the entire time. What made that nun creepy is her stare. She is clearly blind, with milky white eyes that stare not past you, but through you. In one instant, she knows everything about you. Those 5 seconds made enough of an impact that she is often featured on The Devil Inside‘s promotion material. It goes to show that sometimes you don’t need to do a lot to be remembered, especially if it chills you to your core.
Sister Death in Veronica (2017)
The standout hit of 2017, Veronica, is known for its dramatic retelling of the real-life Spanish case of possession by spirit board. Trying to get in touch with her deceased father, Veronica and some classmates use a Ouija board during an eclipse and unleash a malevolent force that seems to follow her wherever she goes. Veronica doesn’t realize the danger she is in until a nun at her school warns her.
And what a perfect way to scare a teenager into undoing the damage they’ve caused than by a nun nicknamed “Sister Death” yelling at you. Really named Sister Narcisa, the nun is blind, making her vacant gaze a lot more pronounced. Being blind isn’t scary in itself — it’s more about how the nun acts towards others. Walking around in dark basements and knowing a bit too much about evil spirits pushes dear old Sister Death more towards the creepy side. Sure, everyone has some fleeting knowledge about spirit boards and the rules of Ouija, but this nun knows too much, like she’s been through it before. She can literally sense the evil around Veronica. Being blind doesn’t remove you from a curse.
Sister Jude and Sister Mary Eunice in AHS: Asylum (2012)
We’ll start with Sister Jude, as she was the main antagonist for most of American Horror Story’s second season. Sister Jude, played by series favorite, Jessica Lange, is as unrefined and to-the-point as it comes. Outwardly hostile, she continuously berates patients and is quick to point out character flaws. While she’s not traditionally creepy, Sister Jude is one I’d imagine not wanting to be in a room with. Her holier-than-thou attitude is why we love her though. We can forgive her brashness because we have a chance to see her rise to greatness at Briarcliff, from nightclub singer, to (accidental) murderer, to strict nun, and finally justice warrior. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and instead of redeeming herself for her past sins, Sister Jude ends up an inmate at the asylum she once reigned queen of.
Her fellow nun, Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), is another story. Sister Mary Eunice is what we pictured the perfect nun to be: sweet, and pure. But like all innocents at Briarcliff, Mary Eunice is about to enter a world of pain and suffering. Her sweet gaze changes to a snarl. Her eyes grow darker, blacker. She is no longer the naive nun of Briarcliff, but a terror transformed by the devil himself. Like Sister Jude in her heyday, Sister Mary Eunice is hellbent on wreaking havoc in every way she can, including murder. It’s always the nice ones you have to watch out for!
The Killer Nun (1979)
I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Sister Gertrude is on a downward spiral as she recovers from a brain tumor. The rush to get back to her job has caused a bout of psychosis, which leads to patients at her hospital being tortured and killed. The Killer Nun is a textbook example of 70s “nunsploitation” films; Sister Gertrude does everything she’s not supposed to do: hurt disabled patients, abuse drugs, start sexual relationships with other nuns and random townsfolk, and above all, KILL PEOPLE. We as an audience are torn between siding with her (she’s under a lot of stress, after all) and rooting for her deadly games. The only thing scarier than a nun actively trying to kill you when you’re at your weakest is a nun who is slowly going mad. To top it off, Sister Gertrude is beautiful! A black widow in rosary beads.
Valak in The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Now THIS is a creepy nun. Shrouded in dark shadows, Valak’s piercing yellow eyes and pale, pointy face stare into the depths of your soul. Can Valak smell fear? Who knows, but I don’t want to find out.
We get the first mention of Valak in The Conjuring 2, where we follow famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren to the little town of Enfield. Making multiple appearances in visions and dreams, Valak terrorizes the Warrens as well as the Enfield family they’re staying with. Lorraine is attacked by Valak in every place imaginable: her own home via painting, the Amityville house via seance, and the Enfield home in person. And it’s not just Lorraine Valak is after — nearly every other character has a close encounter with her in some form, whether it be a Crooked Man or ghost of a former Enfield resident.
Now, Valak isn’t actually a nun — she’s a demon that takes the appearance of one. This could be for many reasons, like mocking religion or because Valak is taking the IT route (taking the form of whatever scares people the most). It’s actually a pretty smart move too; Valak’s disturbing features alone are frightening, but they also show that something millions of people around the world find holy and good can be the source pure evil.
In fact, Valak was so spooky, she got her very own spin-off. An origin story set in Romania, The Nun is in theatres now. Read our Review.
Whether they want to be or not, nuns are following closely behind clowns in terms of not-so-scary things becoming terrifying. The good news is, we can’t get enough of nuns behaving badly. They may try to steal your soul, but their movies are far too entertaining to pass up.