There’s something a little bit sinister about a nun’s habit. While most nuns are lovely people, their outfits, from certain angles, remind you a little of the Grim Reaper’s robes, don’t they? To add to that, their habits are mostly black, the colour of night, for them to blend in the shadows. And their veils really make it easy for wearers to hide their identity.
Do you find nun’s habits eerie? Then I recommend you watch The Nun. Because after sitting through this mess of a film, filled with tacky jump-scares and nun-like monsters more funny than scary, you’ll never be afraid of them again.
The Nun, as many horror fans would know, is the latest addition to The Conjuring universe, a series of interconnected films that began with 2013’s The Conjuring. While its third entry, Annabelle (2014), received mostly mixed reviews, its other films (The Conjuring, 2016’s The Conjuring 2 and 2017’s Annabelle: Creation) did well at the box office, propelling The Conjuring universe to become one of the most successful horror franchises in history. It’s even been called “the first successful post Marvel cinematic universe!”
The Nun, sadly, really doesn’t compare well to the other films that came before it.
Indeed, its ties to the rest of the Conjuring universe are the best thing about it, reminding viewers there are much better horror movies out there, and they can cleanse their minds with those after being subjected to this mess.
So what is The Nun about? Well, it takes place mostly in a creepy monastery in Romania. Actually, that description is a bit redundant – when was the last time you watched a film with a monastery that WASN’T creepy?
It appears a nun has killed herself in strange circumstances. The Vatican can’t have that of course, so they dispatch grizzled priest Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and trainee nun Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to go investigate. Van Helsing was probably too busy at the time.
Aided by a local man, the fun-loving Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), Burke and Irene settle down at the monastery, and learn that – no surprise, here – dark things are afoot. The three must deal with an ancient supernatural horror that lurks beneath the monastery before it escapes into the world. In other words, the plot of almost every other horror movie ever made.
This film is extremely predictable, with “twists” you will see from miles away. Even a last minute “shock” feels depressingly dreary.
Here’s an interesting fact: Taissa Farmiga is the sister of Vera Farmiga, who plays paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies. So you could say this nun movie is literally a Sister Act!
And that is the most interesting thing you can say about The Nun. Director Corin Hardy (who also did 2015’s The Hallow) fills it up with every single horror movie cliché from the days of Nosferatu: sinister figures lurking in the background, creepy ambient sounds, creatures that jump at you while screaming. And these wouldn’t be that bad if they were executed well. But the “scares” in this film are all so over-the-top they become almost funny.
To add insult to injury, the characters are all one-note stereotypes. The actors do their best, but don’t exactly have much to work with. Sister Irene is a woman so pure and good it’s a wonder she hasn’t achieved sainthood yet. Father Burke is a priest with a generic Troubled Past that literally comes back to haunt him, in a subplot that is never even resolved.
And let’s not get started on Frenchie, the movie’s comic relief. Wait, why does a horror movie need comic relief? Exactly. While The Conjuring movies had some light humour, they were implemented in just the right places, never affecting their sinister tone or atmosphere. Here, Frenchie’s bad jokes completely obliterate any tension the movie tries to create. It gets to a point where you start to dread him showing up on screen more than the evil nun.
Oh, by the way, how is the evil nun? Well, not too bad. For a movie called The Nun, however, it is frustrating how little we actually learn about her. As horror fans will know, this monstrous creature (called Valak) first appeared in The Conjuring 2, and was one of the best things about that movie. There, she was used sparingly and wisely, every appearance really heightening the dread she created.
In The Nun, she has a few good scenes. But she ends up being used so often, that when she appears at the film’s ridiculous climax, you’ve gotten desensitised, and start realising she looks a lot like a drag queen version of Voldemort from Harry Potter … which really kills the mood.
There is sadly very little to recommend about this movie, which is one of the weakest entries in The Conjuring universe. Go watch American Horror Story: Asylum if you want a show about nuns and monsters: campy as it is, that’s at least entertaining at parts. Because as far as thrills and scares go? The Nun sadly, has none.
Catch this movie at Golden Screen Cinemas nationwide. Follow GSC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Director: Corin Hardy
Cast: Demián Bichir,Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet