Reel Reviews | The Nun

by Monica Hayes

Finally, we get the darkest storyline in the Conjurverse. As one of the most terrifying characters in the franchise, Corin Hardy’s The Nun is here to scare the @##$ out of audiences. Are you brave enough to watch?

Set in 1950’s Romania at a cloistered Abbey, a young nun commits suicide. Disturbed by her sinful actions, officials at the Vatican enlist Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a specialist in “miracle hunting”, to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death and determine if the abbey is still a holy place. To help him with his duties, Vatican officials suggest he seek out novitiate Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as she has had some experience in the area and can assist him. Their first task is to seek out Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), the man who found the nun, get his side of how he discovered her and then have him take them to the abbey.

When they meet up with Frenchie, and he takes them to the abbey, Burke and Irene begin to look around. They are startled by an old creaky voice who turns out to be the Abbess. Father Burke begins to ask questions but is quickly shut down by the Abbess who states that the nuns are about to take a vow of silence from sunset to sunrise and that they are welcomed to spend the night in the convent. In the morning, they can ask all of their questions.

Reluctantly, they agreed to spend the night. While they patiently wait for morning, they begin to see and hear strange things that would make anyone say forget this, and walk out the door. Nevertheless, you know that didn’t happen and this is where the scary begins. Or so we thought.

The Nun is a prequel to the Conjurverse, but unlike the previous movies, the Nun is a work of fiction. Where the Conjuring, Conjuring 2 and parts of Annabelle were based on true events, the Nun is not. The Nun comes from the minds of James Wan and Gary Dauberman. The only connection Nun has to its predecessors is Taissa Farmiga. She is the sister of Vera Farmiga who plays Lorraine Warren. That is it.

As the brainchild of Wan and Dauberman, the Nun should be considered as the latest scary edition to the Conjurverse, right? Well, not so much. Yes, it will make audiences jump, scream and exclaim, “so you’re gone follow the spooky figure around the dark abbey with only a candle? Really?” But that’s about it.

There is very little character development for Burke, Irene and Frenchie and even less for Valak. We find out that Burke has a haunting past, but what happened in his past was not explained. Also, we see that he and Vatican officials are at odds, but again that background information is not explained. One can only assume that is has something to do with an exorcism gone awry, but we just don’t know. When we see Irene, she is giving a lesson about dinosaurs to a bunch of wide-eyed school girls. How she came to be at the convent, why she choose to become a nun etc. is yet another set of unknowns.

Bonnie Aarons reprises her role as the terrifying nun, but we don’t see enough of her. Granted, the idea is to show just enough for shock/jump value, but damn, we saw more of Valak in the Conjuring and the Conjuring 2 than we did in the Nun. Why? However, the real smack in the face is the glossed over explanation, or lack thereof, of how Valak came to roam the hallowed halls of the abbey. Come on, that is the main reason why we are here. The point of this movie is to explain who or what Valak is, why it is here, and to literally, scare the bejeezus out of the audience. Again, another failure. I felt cheated!

Don’t get me wrong, Nun will give you everything a solid horror movie needs to have: the creaky doors, pitch black hallways with the misty floors, candles blowing out at just the right time, and the jumps and bumps. Only thing is, you get a good dose in the opening scenes, a few well-placed jumps here and there, but those don’t happen often. The rest doesn’t pick back up again until the last 30 minutes.

One thing that really bugged me about this movie was that every time Burke and Irene would start their investigations, they would split up. Every time they split, Valak would pick them apart. You would think that after everything that has happened, and everything they witnessed, they would not split up, but alas, they did. SMH

Overall, Nun will do what it is supposed to do. Get enthused fans of the franchise into the theaters and eerily scare the ish out of them, especially, if you are the jumpy type. Seasoned horror fans will find the jumps less scary and more hooky, maybe even funny.

Grade C+