The Conjuring franchise is all built around and loosely based on factual events. In both Conjuring films, we’re subjected to what amount to flashy reenactments of hauntings that the famous Ed and Lorraine Warren once tackled decades ago. And that fact, the fact that there’s some truth in every installment of The Conjuring universe, could make introducing Dead Silence’s Mary Shaw a bit of a challenge, though clearly not impossible.
Now, having said all that, there’s plenty of pure fiction within The Conjuring universe. To the best of my knowledge, David Sandberg’s excellent Annabelle: Creation is entirely fictional. The earliest documented incidents involving the creepy-as-shit Annabelle doll took place in the 1960s (when Annabelle opens), which means Annabelle: Creation is an entirely fictional (sans the simple involvement of the doll) story. It’s a fine fictional story, and the fact that Wan and those involved in this massive undertaking are freely inserting their own creative ideas in order to continue merging the pictures in The Conjuring universe – while maintaining personal flair and value as standalone pics – does potentially bode well for Dead Silence’s evil villain – the dollmaker known as Mary Shaw.
Knowing that there’s every bit as much fabrication as fact in this particular sector of The Conjuring universe immediately suggests that Mary Shaw, and her countless victims – all turned into soulless potentially murderous dolls – could relentlessly pursue any wrongdoer with vengeance on the… mind… in the veins… I don’t really know where. I just know her potential to grow as a villain of The Conjuring universe sounds dreamy.
As for Dead Silence and Mary Shaw…
After the damaging blow to Shaw’s ventriloquist career as a result of being heckled by a young boy, Mary Shaw had been outed as a “fraud” (perhaps yesteryear’s entertainment seekers bought into some pretty outrageous performers, performances, and stage shows without much question) during a fateful showcase of her talents.
From this point forward it was all downhill for Mary Shaw, whose heckler went missing not long after damaging Shaw’s career. Naturally, the townsfolk blamed Shaw for the boy’s (bastard?) disappearance, and the boy’s very own family took it upon themselves to dish out a little vigilante justice, killing the woman.
So, what we now have is an evil dollmaker/ventriloquist, reincarnated as a super powered doll with a murder-fueled spirit that has no qualms about taking a single life or finding a way to encourage others to do so. After Mary found herself done away with, as would be expected, she found a way to take on a new form: one those damned eerie dolls that Dead Silence constantly reminded us existed.
But how could Shaw be introduced into The Conjuring universe while not sticking out like a sore thumb and not being limited to Annabelle features exclusively?
The growing mythos of all-things Conjuring does indeed leave some wild theories that could, no doubt, manifest themselves in future films to tremendous success. And that means that there may be an opening for a terrifying villain to enter the fold.
An Annabelle spinoff seems appropriate, and the conflicts that could be introduced in a movie like that feel all but limitless and could actually add a very light hint of humor to the story, to top it all off. I mean, just imagine the possibilities: two entities feuding while decked out in plastic and porcelain duds? Two entities simultaneously tormenting a victim? Two little devils sharing mass-murder plans? A tag-team match between Annabelle and Chucky?
Okay, I got a little carried away there.
Back to my point: Mary Shaw could easily squeeze into this terrifying and ongoing saga. Being a disgraced and subsequently evil puppet master, she has the motivation to turn plenty of “average” lives into genuine nightmares.
I can’t see how Mary Shaw makes it into a Conjuring film if the crew maintains the goal of giving fans a somewhat organic impression. The franchise launcher relies on extremely dark themes, which leaves characters on the constant brink; an evil doll woman running around may be an idea that’s simply an improper fit with regard to both the continuity of the films and the fact that The Conjuring feels far more faithful to actual cases.
But even with The Conjuring off the table, Annabelle offers little more than a few slim possible openings (not likely enough to work with at this time) to warrant moving forward with this specific concept that could easily slide through the cracks and into obscurity.
Now, here’s where things get interesting…
In the next year or so Wan will aim to keep the franchise expanding, planning a third Conjuring picture in addition to two new spin-offs: The Nun and The Crooked Man. We’re not privy to much in the way of plot details yet, but these are smaller (but obviously wild prospective creations) franchise features that may actually benefit from the inclusion of Mary Shaw. She’s clearly a pitch-black character with some interesting background details that we’re already aware of. She’s also surprisingly disconcerting.
What if Mary Shaw was unknowingly involved in antagonizing The Nun? What if Shaw despised The Crooked Man for his paralyzing physique and naturally intimidating presence? If Mary Shaw can’t be worked directly into a film that focuses on inanimate dolls, and stunning decisions, perhaps she could play excellent backup to two new compelling villains, or at the least, stand at the center of a chilling sub-plot. There’s no doubt that writers Chad and Carey Hayes, along with James Wan and Gary Dauberman, are capable of merging Wan’s Dead Silence into The Conjuring universe without the story feeling contrived, but how can it be executed to perfection?
Mary Shaw won’t likely ever enter The Conjuring universe, unfortunately. She’s a villain that feels perfect for the sprawling story that this crew is assembling, but the fact is New Line and Warner are handling the Conjuring and Annabelle: Creation pieces, while Dead Silence is a Universal production. A meeting of the minds and official crossover may be outlined for some time down the road, but as of now, it looks like Mary Shaw will continue to rest where she is.
Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this article, D.C. contributor Matt Molgaard has passed on. It’s an honor for us to share his final insights with you all. He will be sorely missed.