By Clark Collis
September 05, 2018 at 06:57 PM EDT

As you might expect from a man who a couple of years back wrote a lengthy tribute for EW about the monster movie Pumpkinhead, director Corin Hardy knows his stuff when it comes to horror movies. But which films influenced his own new project, the Conjuring universe-set The Nun, which is released Sept. 7?

“Whenever I put a movie together, I’m prepping it, and I’m watching movies, putting together like a lookbook or a bible,” says the British director. “I felt the script [reminded me of] a bunch of movies. Hammer horror. Christopher Lee’s Dracula and also Coppola’s Dracula in that there was a gothic quality to the movie. There was also a story element that felt like Name of the Rose. The Exorcist is very obvious — it’s probably a reference for all the Conjuring movies really and just one of the best films ever made, one of my favorite films — but also The Exorcist III, which doesn’t ever really get talked about, but I think is a really great solid scary movie.

“This is a very bold statement to make, but my favorite Indiana Jones movie is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — I don’t care what anyone says about that — and there was a Temple of Doom vibe that inspired me when I thought about The Nun. And then I’m always inspired by Sam Raimi’s films and felt like there was a little opportunity to exploit a bit of demonic activity, so a bit of Evil Dead II. I always try to slip that in there, but this felt justified. What else? Italian horror movies. Dario Argento movies and those sort of striking compositions. So, a combination of those movies.”

Set in early-’50s Romania, The Nun is the origin story of the inhuman spirit, also known as Valak, that tormented ghost-hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) in the 1977-set The Conjuring 2.

The film stars Demian Bichir as a priest named Father Burke and Taissa Farmiga as a novitiate, Sister Irene. “She had a difficult and isolating childhood,” Farmiga says of her character. “She experienced these visions that set her apart from her peers and eventually led her to a life in the church.” The pair are tasked by the Vatican to investigate a mysterious death at an abbey in Romania where, Farmiga reveals, “there’s some sort of presence that shouldn’t be there.”

Watch the trailer for The Nun, above.

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