“The Nun”- Movie Review

In a world dominated by franchises, The Conjuring Universe has proven to be one of the more successful ones out there. Sure, not every film has hit bulls-eye, but so far the good has largely outweighed the bad. And it’s no surprise the series has started putting time and energy into spin-offs centered on iconic Conjuring foes like Annabelle, the Crooked Man and the Nun. It was bound to happen sooner or later. These movies in particular seem to range from being absolute garbage to actually being pretty decent. Colin Hardy’s The Nun fits neatly into the middle of that spectrum.

The film winds the clock back to 1952. Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a priest with a troubled past, is sent by the Vatican to investigate the suicide of a nun at the Carta Monastery in Romania, Transylvania. He’s accompanied by Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a young Catholic novice who’s been having disturbing visions, and the two of them are occasionally accompanied by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a supply deliverer who’d discovered the nun’s corpse. As day slowly creeps to night, the dark secrets hiding within the walls of this holy place emerge, and our protagonists have no choice but to confront a malevolent entity before it finds its way to the outside world.

I was never too excited about The Nun, and I have a feeling that a lot of people weren’t either. I thought it was a cheap idea when it was first announced. The studio saw the character’s popularity and, of course, chose to throw millions of dollars into what supposedly would be the demon’s origin story. I expected a sloppy cash-grab, but surprisingly, the film does show signs of creative effort.

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For one, it definitely looks the part. The visuals are something straight out of a classic haunted house story- the crumbling ruins of the cathedral, a dense forest spotted with weathered and decaying crosses, a dark and spooky graveyard engulfed in fog. Not only is it pretty to look at, but it also creates a nice Gothic atmosphere, which in turn is a rich ingredient for a horror movie. The actors and the characters they portray are decent. Their solid performances hold your investment throughout the film, just as the characters’ likability makes you care about getting out of this situation alive.

The film’s biggest sins lie in its story and its scares. The narrative is very loose, with certain plot points that either don’t go anywhere or are so faint you often forget how they tie into the rest of the movie. For example, the priest’s backstory is brought up and you think it’s going to play a part in developing his character, but really the demon just uses it against him in a series of prank-like scares. It’s like he has the beginning of an arc, but it stops halfway through and never reaches a fitting conclusion. I also kept forgetting why Sister Irene was there in the first place, and Frenchie, for a huge chunk of the film, is not in the picture.

Above all, The Nun isn’t scary. It’s startling to say the least. There’s plenty of jump-scares, and to its credit, they’re not false scares. But they do feel lazy. After a while, you start to notice a pattern. A character will be walking down an eerie hallway, they look left, the camera pans to the left, the camera pans back, suddenly there’s a ghost behind them, then they keep walking for a few seconds until BOO! the scare happens. A lot of wash, rise, repeat that doesn’t pick up steam until the third act, when the film lets loose and allows things to get a bit more outrageous.

So The Nun might not live up to the reputation of its umbrella universe, but at the very least it’s somewhat entertaining. You’re not going to learn more about the Nun than what the other Conjuring films have already told you, and I can’t guarantee you’ll be checking your closets at night. You’re looking for a basic horror movie to get a head-start on the Halloween season, then maybe you’ll get something out of The Nun. For me personally, it was a decent ride that I never need to go on again.

Cosmic Grade: 3/5 Stars

 

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