Set in 1952 Romania, The Nun is yet another prequel to ‘The Conjuring’; based on the antagonist from ‘The Conjuring 2’. Chronologically this is the first movie to take place within the universe, which includes the other spinoffs, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’. Sadly, The Nun is by far the weakest entry of the [can I now call it a] franchise so far. Since its release (and even before) all I’ve heard and read about The Nun has been negative. As a fan of the Conjuring universe (and the character in ‘The Conjuring 2’) I really wanted to enjoy this film. Unfortunately I can’t say that. I have to agree with the consensus opinion.
The [sort of] origin story begins at a creepy old abbey with the death of a nun; a death which the Vatican sends Father Burke (Damian Bichir, ‘Alien: Covenant’) along with a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, ‘American Horror Story’), to investigate. During their time at what may as well have been a live-action Hotel Transylvania, they are haunted by a malevolent force in the form of Valak (Bonnie Aarons), the demonic titular nun.
So one of the main reasons for this film existing was because people liked the character so much in ‘The Conjuring 2’. It’s therefore hugely disappointing (and confusing) that she’s barely in her own movie. We see images of her here and there, and get a sense of her presence; but she doesn’t actually appear all that much.
One of the things that are essential for a horror movie like this is some decent scares. I don’t even mind if they’re jump scares, as long as they’re done well. The Nun did have lots of moments throughout the film where they tried to adopt the jump scare technique; however they were signposted so obviously that meant I saw every single one of them coming long before they arrived. What’s worse is that they used the same method numerous times of a character looking at something (the camera panning to where they’re looking), then when the camera panned back (shock horror - not!) something was behind them. Only a person who has never seen a horror movie in their life before would be surprised by that. For a film like this to not have even one decent scare is unforgivable.
With no scares to be had, all that we are left with is incredibly boring scenes of people not doing anything interesting. There seemed to be just a lot of ominous wondering around at night with a candle/lantern/torch. I honestly can’t recall (aside from the terrible attempts to scare us) what else this movie even did. It became so serious at times that I (alongside alongside my fellow cinemagoers) began giggling for no apparent reason. There was nothing funny happening; it was just so cheesy. One of the main culprits for me was Bichir, who was really rubbish. Even if you take into consideration the awful script he had to read from, he was still terrible.
I thought Taissa Framiga (sister of ‘The Conjuring’ star Vera Farmiga) wasn’t bad. She’s a talented actress, but this role didn’t give her much to work with. The best (and I use that word very generously) performance was probably from Jonas Bloquet (Elle), who played a French-Canadian in Romania called Frenchie, who delivered supplies to the abbey. I gave a small laugh early on in the movie when he momentarily reminded me of Pepe Le Pew by the way he lusted after Sister Irene – that was until he realised that she was a nun. You don’t think that sounds funny? The fact that this was a highlight for me shows just how poor the film was.
In all honesty, after the last two movies (‘The Nun’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’) I think they should just stop with the spinoffs; and just get James Wan back to direct more of the actual Conjuring movies. ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘The Conjuring 2’ are two of the best horror movies of recent years. Let’s just have more of those please!