UK Release Date: 6th September 2018
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Corin Hardy
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Synopsis: A Vatican investigator and a young nun travel to a secluded abbey in Romania in order to look into the apparent suicide of a nun, only to find the building mostly deserted and something dark lurking within the building.
With a mixture of storytelling stealth and an arsenal of good characters, The Conjuring has blossomed from a surprisingly successful summer horror movie into a bona fide shared universe. The latest entry into that growing franchise is The Nun, providing an origin story for the demonic nun Valak, who menaced the Warrens in The Conjuring 2. With the Irish filmmaker Corin Hardy aboard and a trailer featuring a killer jump scare, expectations for this one were high.
The plot is simple enough that it could’ve worked, following Vatican investigator Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and novitiate nun Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they attempt to get to the bottom of the suicide of a nun at a secluded Romanian abbey. The duo join forces with shaken local Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), who discovered the body, and he joins them to spend some time within the abbey in search of answers. They are soon tormented by apparitions of the demonic Valak (Bonnie Aarons), who seems to be exerting her malevolent influence on the building and those within it.
So, all of the pieces were in place for The Nun to work and continue the current hot streak of this franchise. It’s very unfortunate, in this case, that the movie is so completely terrible. Hardy has delivered one of the dullest and least exciting horror films of the last year – a year that has included such nonsense as Slender Man. It’s a movie that constantly asks what’s lurking behind its characters, only to give the answer “a spooky nun” every time and hope that’s enough. There’s no depth to any of the characters, other than their unerring faith in the power of a raised crucifix to save them, despite constant evidence that it’s no more relevant to Valak than the latest sale at New Look.
There just isn’t enough going on here to string the scares together. In fact, The Nun might be the only horror film ever made to feature more good scares in its trailer than in the film itself. The performances, too, are entirely bland and seem calibrated solely to provide the bare minimum of work to justify handing the actors their pay packets. The missed opportunity is presented most clearly in the casting of Taissa Farmiga – sister of Conjuring series lead Vera. Despite the chronology fun of the broader universe, this movie does absolutely nothing with this family connection, even once it loops everything back into the franchise mix with a nicely edited coda.
There’s just a complete lack of imagination at play throughout The Nun. It relies entirely upon its gothic setting to create atmosphere and then simply sleepwalks through a fairly standard selection of jump scares that everyone has seen before and absolutely no one finds in any way scary. Overall, The Nun is nothing more than a sh-abbey slice of nun-sense.
Pop or Poop?
The Conjuring universe has finally hit a genuine dud with The Nun, which simply doesn’t have enough ideas to fill a feature-length running time. It’s a loosely assembled patchwork of bland set pieces, where the only people who get anything out of it are the prop company providing the cruifixes. They must have had a very lucrative couple of days.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.