Movie Review: The Nun

The Nun is definitely a fun, pre-Halloween horror film

Movie Review: The Nun

Trading in the creaky old houses and haunted apartments from the previous Conjuring movies for a decaying monastery, The Nun is certainly the “biggest” installment in the horror franchise yet. The Conjuring, of course, started out as a single film (very) loosely inspired by the exploits of real-life paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren but has since evolved into an entire cinematic universe of sequels and spinoffs. James Wan has served as the architect for this property since the beginning and he remains involved here as a writer and producer, assisting second-time feature director Corin Hardy (The Hallow). Set in 1952, The Nun follows Father Burke (Demián Bichir) – a priest who specializes in the supernatural – and soon-to-be nun Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they travel to the Abbey of St. Carta in Romania, on the Vatican’s orders. There, the pair attempt to uncover the truth behind the apparent suicide of a nun who resided at the mysterious and remote building. Likewise (Jonas Bloquet) brings some welcome charm to his role as the cocky yet good-natured Frenchie – even though the character winds up feeling somewhat under-used in the end. Those three serve as the main leads here, with almost every other cast member amounting to a glorified extra. The exception, of course, is that of Valak itself, who is once again brought to terrifically sinister and otherwise freaky life through a near-silent performance by (Bonnie Aaron). Upon reaching the Abbey, Burke and Irene are quick to realize that something is terribly wrong with this place and find themselves under attack by the dangerous (and demonic) being that hides within its walls. Armed with nothing more than their inner strength, faith, and unnatural powers that Irene possesses yet doesn’t fully understand, the duo set out to learn the truth about this creature so that they might defeat it at long last. Unfortunately, The Nun generally skimps on developing its themes about faith and the struggle to keep dark forces at bay (both the mundane and fantastical variety), in order to move along to the next creepy set piece or sequence. Similarly, the film doesn’t take the time to paint Father Burke’s troubled history and/or Sister Irene’s abilities in anything other than broad strokes, making it feel all the more like an exercise in style over substance. On the whole, The Nun isn’t as well-crafted as Conjuring 1 & 2 and Annabelle: Creation, but is noticeably more stylized and enjoyable than the original Annabelle. The film features a few legitimately creepy moments that don’t last nearly long enough, along with one interestingly-executed sequence involving a character being buried alive. A pair of bookends tie the film back to The Conjuring directly, and the one the film ends on contained a reveal I didn’t see coming. While The Nun is not as infamous as Annabelle or as top notch as The Conjuring films, it’s definitely a fun, pre-Halloween horror film that’s sure to prime you for the spooky season ahead.

By Ken Warren, 2018

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