Published on September 7th, 2018 | by Michael Newman0
I’ve always been a sucker for supernatural thrillers that are based on “actual events”, even if the way it’s portrayed in the movies nowhere resembles the truth. For some reason, it’s always intriguing to watch a film and imagine that these things could potentially happen. This has always been the draw of The Conjuring films, which are loosely based on the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose paranormal investigations were the inspiration behind not only this series but the Amityville Horror. So, when I heard that The Nun was another movie set in the same cinematic universe as The Conjuring franchise I anxiously awaited the opportunity to review it.
The Nun begins with two nuns who are attempting to destroy an evil being that has cursed an abbey in a small Romanian village for hundreds of years. After a young man who goes by the name Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) discovers one of the nuns has hung herself, the Vatican summons Father Burke (Demián Bichir), who is known for his special skills in exorcisms and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a young nun-in-training to investigate the matter. With Frenchie as their guide, they travel to the abbey to uncover the mysteries of the nun’s suicide.
The Nun reintroduces us to a familiar demonic figure that was originally introduced in The Conjuring 2. Sadly, this is where the similarities to the other Conjuring films end. The Nun has its share of jump scares, but the entire film seems to be a compilation of various horror tropes including everything from crosses turning upside down to using holy water to get rid of demons. All the typical exorcism movie elements are there, but none of them really add any context to the story or answer any questions as to why the priest and nun were sent to investigate the suicide. There is no discernable path that the characters take to unravel the mystery, and it attempts to build suspense only to “Hollywood-up” the ending. They sacrificed suspense and mystery and replaced it with monster filled battles and cheesy one-liners. Instead of beautifully haunting ghosts and demons we got what I could only describe as nun-mummies which can now be taken down with shovels and shotguns. A shotgun was not part of Father Burke’s exorcism arsenal but towards the end of the movie you start to think maybe that should have been his weapon of choice all along (who needs a cross and holy water, when you have your trusty 12-gauge).
The setting is as beautiful as it is creepy, and it’s hard not to wonder how they could take such an amazing setting and dumb it down. The Nun herself is particularly creepy and the characters at first glance appear to be interesting which is why it’s so disappointing that the movie feels so much like a missed opportunity. The pacing of the movie is incredibly slow as well, with all the buildup of the investigation most of the time you are just waiting for something to happen. To make it even worse, most of the buildups lead the audience down a path of confusion and not only raise more questions that will never be answered, but also destroy any believability of the story.
Ultimately, fans of The Conjuring franchise will likely leave disappointed and with even more longing for The Conjuring 3 to be released. The movie lacks much of the suspense and outright terror that the previous movies in the series were well known for and ultimately feels like a spinoff movie that lacks any real connection to the movies preceding it. The Nun isn’t a terrible movie, and I didn’t leave feeling as though I had completely wasted an hour and a half of my time, it just really doesn’t do anything to break new ground or move the franchise along in any meaningful way. While there are parts of the movie that will have you jump, the reality is, that the scenes following these moments will keep you bewildered and likely cause you to forget what made you jump in the first place. It has some interesting concepts, but nothing that hasn’t been done better in similar movies before it. In the end it’s a movie that people will not likely hate but will not feel satisfied with either. I certainly wouldn’t recommend paying full price to see it, but it may be worth the Saturday matinee price or watching it when it comes to Blu-ray. If you want a good ghost or demon movie to get you in the Halloween spirit, this isn’t it. You’d be much better off watching the spectacularly classic Poltergeist or The Exorcist if you really want to be scared out of your wits.
What I liked: The setting and atmosphere, The Nun herself was pretty freaky
What I liked less: Disjointed story, Too many unanswered questions, Overall “meh” feeling
2 out of 5 stars
Second review by Tracey Barrientos
Paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren have endured a plethora of paranormal experiences throughout their lives. We’ve seen the Perron family case, the Hodgson case and the truth behind Annabelle. The next installment in the franchise reveals the story behind the demonic Nun whom we were introduced to in the Conjuring 2.
After reports of a nun committing suicide in a secluded abbey in Romania; a priest (Demián Bichir) and a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) travel to the cloistered abbey by the Vatican to uncover the truth. They both find themselves up against forces greater than they had both expected.
I found the film lacking something. As I write this, I still find it hard to put my finger on what the film really lacks. Was it the unusual amount of comedic lines that may or may not have been meant to be taken as such. Perhaps it was the lack of scary or unsettling moments in the first half of the film or could it be that unlike its predecessors this film is based solely on fiction. The only piece of truth that audiences can hold onto is that accounts of the demon known as Valak dates back to the 17th century. Yes Lorraine Warren had been haunted in her past by a demonic force but she has never stated that said demon was that of the Valak demon or that of a nun. Despite the film being fictional, it just didn’t give me that unsettling feeling that the others had. I feel that maybe writer James Wan was really reaching for something he just couldn’t grasp.
The scenic backdrop along with the creepy atmosphere just wasn’t enough to sell me on the amount of scares the film was supposed to live up to. As a big fan of the entire franchise excluding the first Annabelle, I expected this film to be just as or if not more frightening than the last. It simply wasn’t. Although, fans of the franchise should at least see it once to see how all the films come together but don’t expect it to be as good as the others.
3 out of 5