If you like trashy types of horror films where you know what you’re getting when you spend that hard-earned money on a ticket, then go see The Nun. Maybe you can get a chuckle out of it.
The latest spinoff entry in The Conjuring cinematic universe gives another terrifying and visually haunting antagonist from the main franchise films their own origin film. So, is The Nun worth of The Conjuring name? A modern horror franchise that doesn’t rely on cheap editing, has believable characters and most importantly, is actually scary? Absolutely not. The Nun is a lacklustre, dull and embarrassing experience at the cinema. The characters are idiotic, the plot is senseless and what’s most unfortunate is the scares; they were pathetic, cheap and just… unimaginative. You can only pan over someone’s face to block what’s behind them, then pan back to reveal a spooky face so many times.
Set 20 years before The Conjuring films in 1952, a priest (Demián Bichir) is summoned by The Vatican to inspect a suicide at a convent in Romania. Along the way, he recruits a young novice (Taissa Farmiga) and a French-Canadian farmer (Jonas Bloquet) to aid his investigation. Together, they realise the convent is cursed by the evil, demonic spirit that haunts the halls of the abbey, referred to as The Nun. Unfortunately, the plot has no bearing on the film at all. The film isn’t so much a story that threads through the origins of The Nun, but more of multiple, unrelated scare sequences, loosely stringed together for cheap and uninteresting jumps and loud noises as The Nun makes her one of two screaming CGI faces.
The most successful horror films have smart and engaging characters, that not only have key motivations to be in their horror situation, but also make genuine human decisions that we can relate to. The Nun fails on all these accounts. The Nun is full of the clichés that The Conjuring films avoid. It lacks any sort character motivation. So often we see below-average horror films where we ask ourselves “why are they going in there?!” and “why are they splitting up?!”. The novice Sister Irene has no real reason to be there while Father Burke, the smart man he is portrayed as, should have left after the first night as he nearly bites the dust. The film takes place over 2-3 nights where our characters stay at the Convent, and it’s never explained why they need to stay.
Having said that, it’s no surprise that the film is full of plot contrivances. Answers and accidents just happen to our characters when the script wants it too. It treats the audience like a group of underage idiots, no respect for continuity as it can’t even follow the rules it sets up. The Nun has one decently chilling opener and one likeable character in Bloquet’s Frenchie, but two barely acceptable silver linings in this mess of a film doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. Its biggest detriment is the wasted potential, there is an idea for a good horror film here. Instead of actually seeing how The Nun became to be or giving her a disturbing character origin, she is just another silly obstacle for our idiot leads to run away from. If you like these trashy types of horror films where you know what you’re getting when you spend that hard-earned money on a ticket, then go see The Nun. Maybe you can get a chuckle out of it.