Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Director: Corin Hardy
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.
The Conjuring series has always been a mixed bag of a horror series. While the main films within the series are some of the best horror films of the decade, the Annabelle films are not at the same level of quality. With the creation of The Nun, we get another spinoff in this universe and hopefully one that is closer to The Conjuring in quality instead of Annabelle. Unfortunately, The Nun makes the one mistake that any horror should never make. At no point did I ever care about the characters, events, or enemies in this movie. The film is only 96 minutes long, but there is never a time where the viewers can feel truly invested within the movie. While the acting is serviceable and there are a few cool camera tricks every once in a while, The Nun left me more bored than scared and fell into the same generic pitfalls that many horror movies fall into.
After a nun commits suicide in a small abbey in Romania, Father Burke (Bichir) is sent by the Vatican along with Sister Irene (Farmiga), a young nun in training, to investigate the suicide and make sure that the abbey is still a holy place. What they discover is that the abbey is being haunted by an evil nun (Aarons), who needs a living vessel in order to spread her evil in human form. It is up to Father Burke and Sister Irene to stop the nun and prevent her evil from infecting any others in the nearby area. Starting off with the film’s fear factor, the main issue with The Nun is just how generic the scares were. The whole movie is just unsettling images followed by loud noises, and while they might be effective every once in a while, they happen far too often for them to ever have a real impact on the audience. Moving onto the camerawork, I feel very conflicted about this subject, because there are two extremes in this movie. On one hand, there are multiple shots where the use of focusing tricks put your attention on the nun as she is sneaking up on unsuspecting people. On the other hand, this film uses the exact same sequence to introduce an impending moment of tension. It is always a series of camera on the main character, pan out to a part of the room where nobody is in frame, and then pan back to find the nun in the background. This gets incredibly boring very quickly, as you know after the second or third time it happens what is coming when they do it again. The main issue, however, is the lack of care given to the story. There were multiple instances where I thought to myself, “why does any of this even matter?” I understood the stakes of the situation they were involved in, but I never actually felt connected to their world in any way. We learn nothing about the characters and instead we get a very basic, linear plot that is not particularly exciting. This is a shame, because the actors seem to be relatively invested in the film. I will give credit to Bloquet for giving a pretty lively and charismatic performance given how the rest of this movie played out. He was funny, charming, and did not take his role too seriously and as a result, gave the audience a person that we could identify with, which is what the film was truly missing.
Overall, while the foundation of a good horror movie was there, The Nun was just too uneventful to make a lasting impact on the genre. The scares are few and far between, the camerawork can be pretty sloppy at times, and while the acting is pretty serviceable compared to other movies it would compete with, it is not enough to save it. Hopefully whatever the next installment of the Conjuring universe is, they fix these issues and go back to what made the main installments so successful, because their spinoffs have been incredibly underwhelming so far.
Overall Score: 4/10