I would consider myself a huge fan of “The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2,” which are some of the best horror films in years. One of the highlights of “The Conjuring 2” was the character of Valak, the nun. While she was not in many scenes, her appearances were some of the film’s most impactful moments. Upon hearing that there was going to be a spin off of that character, I was slightly skeptical. The trailer did not impress and James Wan was not going to direct this film. Unfortunately, “The Nun” is a misstep for “The Conjuring” universe.
“The Nun” is a prequel to “The Conjuring” and is set in 1952 in Romania. The film follows a priest and a novitiate who are sent by the Vatican to investigate a suicide of a nun in an abbey. Upon arriving at the scene, they discover that there may be a demonic presence surrounding them. This leads the characters to not only question their faith, but to have a horrific encounter with the demonic presence.
Horror friends, has anyone seen The Nun yet? I'm seeing bad reviews 😬
— Exorcism of Emily Reed (@ExorcismEmily) September 9, 2018
“The Nun” is a horror film that has been done so many times before and done better. There is not much of a story or an origin of the titular character for that matter. As a result, we get a film that is dull. While the actors in the film do the best with what they are given, the characters themselves are incredibly bland. There is an attempt at a backstory to Demian Bichir’s character, but the film decides to not do anything with it.
There is a comic relief character named Frenchie, who is played by Jonas Bloquet. Admittedly, at times some of the humor worked but overall he felt generic and not very memorable. The film seemed to have foreshadowed a potential romance between this character and the novitiate, but like many arcs in the film – it leads to nothing. In all honesty, it seemed like the writer brainstormed a lot of ideas but had no idea how to complete them.
The biggest aspect in which “The Nun” fails as a horror film is being scary. All of the scares this film has to offer are jump scares, including the opening scene. To make matters worse, the viewer is able to predict when a jump scare would pop up on the screen.
There are a few positive aspects of the film. Everyone in the cast gives a solid performance, despite the characters not being very well-written. Bichir, known for his role in “The Hateful Eight,” delivers a solid performance as the priest. Taissa Farmiga, who plays a novitiate who is on the threshold on her final vows, is believable in her role as well. She is able to sell that she is terrified of the situation. Everyone else does a serviceable job.
There is some nice cinematography that is present and some of the wide shots of the nun in the background are effective. I would also say the third act does offer some good direction. Unfortunately, that is all the movie has to offer.
I would not say “The Nun” is one of the worst horror films ever made, but it is certainly not a good one. Similar to 2014’s “Annabelle,” it has the words “cash grab” written all over it. Due to the film’s successful opening weekend, it is very likely that the franchise is not going to end anytime soon. One could hope that whatever the next film in the franchise is, it will turn out to be better than “The Nun.”