Director: Corin Hardy
Starring: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, and Bonnie Aarons
“The Conjuring” universe continues to grow with director Corin Hardy’s “The Nun”. Taking the mythos of an evil spirit that manifests the physical form of a nun, who was last seen in another connected ghost franchise “Annabelle: Creation”, “The Nun” continues to operate within the blueprint established by recent master of horror James Wan, the director responsible for “Insidious” and “The Conjuring”. Unfortunately, “The Nun” feels stifled by familiar setups and a bare bones narrative that aims to offer nothing more than sequences to build scares around.
Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is tasked by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious death of a nun in Romania. He is provided a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows to accompany him on the voyage. The two travel to Romania and meet up with the young man (Jonas Bloquet) who discovered the deceased nun. The group travel to the secluded abbey and uncover a dark and unholy secret involving a demon named Valek that is trying to escape the monastery.
“The Nun” boasts an interesting atmosphere that pours on the fog and deepens the long shadows, composing a visually interesting gothic scenery. It helps in crafting the structure to make some of the more deliberate scares have greater effect than they otherwise might have. Dark hallways that seem endlessly guided into thick blackness, catacombs with swathed bodies surrounded by dense fog, and, of course, a cemetery with crooked crosses each of which have bells connected to strings so that people buried alive could alert those above ground. It’s a great setup.
Unfortunately, even with some creative moments “The Nun” never feels cohesive enough to make the demon Valek have the lasting fright that it should. And this monster has such an effective design that we should think twice about turning the lights off after we watch the movie. But there are few frights here that seem altogether memorable, if you’ve seen “The Conjuring” or “The Insidious” films you’ve seen all these scares before. The most effective scare featuring The Nun doesn’t even happen in this film.
The two lead characters, who are given earnest performances by Mr. Bichir and Ms. Farmiga, are rarely provided the construction to put much value in their journey. The narrative is trying to establish an origin story but the dots never seem to connect effectively enough, though this isn’t always a bad thing for horror films. In fact, sometimes a muddled backstory can make the monster more effective. That unfortunately isn’t the case here.
“The Nun” has a few moments that embrace the nice mix of humor and horror that makes these supernatural vehicles so much fun. In particular the inclusion of a specific weapon by one of the characters offers a nice gag. “The Nun” has some spooky imagery and establishes some great atmosphere, which is were most of its fun is had; unfortunately it never conjures the spectacle or the scares that such a visually interesting monster should have.
2.00 out of 5.00