What The Conjuring 2's Crooked Man Originally Looked Like

The Crooked Man of James Wan's "The Conjuring 2" stands, crookedly, among the pantheon of jarring horror characters that carry themselves so unnervingly that viewers believe them to solely be the work of CGI. Among that creepy cadre is Mama from Andrés Muschietti's 2013 horror film of the same name, and the trio of wife-ghosts in Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" — all played by the towering Javier Botet (partially responsible for one of the scariest found footage scares). Next up for the Spanish actor is the role of Dracula in a new offering from André Øvredal, a casting choice indicating that this version of the Count will have a gaunt, Nosferatu-like feel to him. 

Whether emerging from a children's fort or Animorphs-style from the family dog, the 6′ 7″ Botet can move as fluidly or jerkily as he pleases; it's all nightmare fuel.

Like its predecessor, "The Conjuring 2" sees a family beset by paranormal disturbances courtesy of the demon Valak — the Crooked Man was one of its many tools used to terrorize. Dressed in a red pinstriped suit tailored to his elongated limbs and slender frame, the creature sports a nasty Cheshire grin and beady black eyes peeking out from his altered hat, occasionally hyping himself up with a bastardized nursery rhyme:

There was a crooked man ... and he walked a crooked mile / The crooked man stepped forth and ... rang the crooked bell / And thus his crooked soul ... spiraled into a crooked hell/ Murdered his crooked family ... and laughed a crooked laugh.

 The spindly manifestation, who would go after children, parents, and adult skeptics alike, conjured enough night terrors to prompt interest in a spinoff after the film's release. His crooked look, however, took some time to land on.

Jared Krichevsky has such sights to show you

Crooked Man artist and co-creator (along with James Wan) Jared Krichevsky let the slender creeper walk a crooked mile on his blog, where he shared images of several alternate designs, with tweaks both large and small. One showcases a bent hat instead of the rounded bowler seen in the final version, while another design displays a toothy, pitted (hatless) dome that looks like something out of a Tool music video. Still more C-Men sport gnarled, twisty fingernails that refuse to even sprout and curl into themselves the way post-mortem nails should — at least, for a human.

Most interesting is Krichevsky's fleshy iteration of the Crooked Man, a humanoid figure covered in muscle-deep slices that recall the scarred and bloodied Cenobites of "Hellraiser." Avoiding the stitches and manmade cosmetology that make Frankenstein's creature and Leatherface so dread-inducing, a Crooked Man laced with geometric lacerations hints at a sadistic power far scarier than a hubristic surgeon or a cannibal Texan.

On his blog, the CG designer sang the creative praises of his collaborator:

"'Conjuring 2' was a great pleasure to work on and I love the way he turned out in the movie as well. As a huge fan of his work I really learned a lot in getting notes from Director James Wan, he really enjoyed the exploration process and was open to letting the character evolve."

It should be noted that Krichevsky "hopes" to see a Crooked Man spinoff as much as anyone else. Hopefully, he'll be tapped for creature design if the movie ever gains steam again.

When Botet is behind the makeup, everyone wins

The wide array of alternate designs presented by Krichevsky illustrates a series of eerie, uncanny pressure points to stir up terror across moviegoing audiences. Near-universal discomforts with too-wide grins, too-small eyes, and too many teeth find purchase in each version of Valek's skinniest manifestation. But whether the creature has erased facial features, odd skin textures, or damaged flesh, none of the choices are too strong for a performer of Javier Botet's caliber. 

Dubbed "The Man Behind Hollywood's Monsters," Botet has a genre film resume that draws surprise for whoever scrolls through it. From playing a viscous leper in Andrés Muschietti's "It" to the toe-less ghoul in André Øvredal's "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" and HBO's "Game of Thrones" series (where he played a wight in "The Long Night" episode from season 8), he's the actor everyone has seen but didn't realize it due to all of the prosthetics and fx makeup. Or worse; he's assumed to be purely CGI. 

While the Crooked Man spinoff is still in the development stages, fans can re-read their old paperback copy of "Dracula" — just the "Captain's Log" chapter for this adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel – and look forward to seeing Botet lay waste to a ship of doomed mortals when "The Last Voyage of the Demeter," currently in post-production and Botet's second project with Øvredal, drops in August of 2023.