While Universal struggles to get their “Dark Universe” of monster characters off the ground, Warner Bros. and director/producer James Wan have been quietly building a horror movie universe based around creatures and concepts introduced in The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. A fourth spin-off movie, titled The Crooked Man and based on the creepy villain from the second movie, is now in the works.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news, reporting that Mike Van Waes has been hired to write the screenplay. No director is attached, but Wan and Conjuring series producer Peter Safran will produce.
The Crooked Man is the third Conjuring monster to get its own movie, following in the footsteps of the possessed doll Annabelle from the first movie and the demonic nun from the second. This impossibly tall, impossibly thin entity in a suit and bowler hat menaced the family at the heart of The Conjuring 2, eventually coming face-to-face with Patrick Wilson’s paranormal investigator, Ed Warren, in the climax. While he was technically just the warm-up for the real monster at the center of that film’s haunting (see: that demonic nun), he was the creepiest aspect of the movie and was used to great effect in his few scenes.
While his gangly frame suggests a CGI creation, the Crooked Man was actually played by Javier Botet, an actor whose extreme physicality has made hime one of the go-to actors for modern movie monsters. He played creatures in the REC series before breaking into Hollywood, playing ghosts and ghouls of all stripes in Mama, Crimson Peak, The Mummy, and the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It. He was even a motion capture artist for the xenomorph in Alien: Covenant. While the THR article doesn’t mention him by name, it’s hard to imagine a Crooked Man movie without Botet – he’s the reason the character is so chilling.
While I’m all for more horror movies carved out of the Conjuring movies (because they’re terrific and a ton of fun), I wonder if The Crooked Man will be content to be a straightforward horror movie or if it will take note of what makes its parent movies so unique. While frightening, The Conjuring and its sequel never lose sight of their characters. They’re ultimately human stories, the rare horror movies that aren’t on the side of the monsters. While I’m a bigger fan of the first Annabelle movie than most, there’s no denying that it’s a boilerplate jump-scare-athon. I hope the new spin-offs are a bit more varied and a bit more willing to try new things. It would only be in the spirit of the core series.
The Crooked Man doesn’t have a release date yet, but Annabelle: Creation is due out on August 11, 2017 and The Nun is filming now for a July 13, 2018 release.