Movie Review: The Nun



Starring: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farminga, & Jonas Bloquet
Directed By: Corin Hardy (The Hallow)
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes

          Back in 2013, we were given a movie called The Conjuring.  It centered around two real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.  Their biggest claim to fame was that they investigated the house that inspired The Amityville Horror.  Which if you didn’t know, is based on a somewhat true story.  The Conjuring was directed by James Wan, the mind behind Saw, he set out to make an expanded horror universe, similar to the Marvel movies you see.  So he left little clues and characters throughout his two Conjuring movies.  One spin off franchise was Annabelle, which saw movies released about a creepy doll in 2014, 2017, and third installment due out next year.  The Nun is a second spin off series featuring a character from those two series.

          The Conjuring series is a very good series of movies.  They made a ton of money and were very well directed.  They take their time in setting up the scares to come.  The first one is on Netflix right now, can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy horror.  Genuinely one of the best horror movies of the decade.  The Annabelle series of movies have been met with mixed reviews, but have still made a ton of money.  Full disclosure, I’ve never seen any of the Annabelle movies, they never looked that great to me.  The Nun made a ton of money at the box office this weekend, as expected.  It had one of the better trailers I’ve seen all year.  Really creepy stuff, great visuals.  Not too spoiler-y. 

          Good news, bad news.  You’re definitely going to get sequels to The Nun.  But, we’re going to wonder why.  The Nun just never really popped for me.  I was incredibly excited for this one and it let me down big time.

          The Nun was so scary when it appeared in The Conjuring 2 because you knew nothing about it.  You didn’t know its motivations, you didn’t know how it ticks, it was just there, and was very frightening.  So giving it a back story is probably a terrible idea, but I’m still up for finding some answers to those questions if done properly.  Every fictitious boogeyman has a back story, why not The Nun.  I can’t fault the logic.  The Nun goes back to before The Conjuring series and acts as a prequel to all the other movies in this Universe.

          We travel to Romania, where a Nun has committed suicide after a peculiar set of events.  A grizzled priest goes to investigate, he brings along a possibly clairvoyant nun who hasn’t taken her vows yet.  We can see the priest has lived a hard life, something happened to him that makes him want to look into paranormal events.  The pair meet up with Frenchie, a farmer who found the deceased nun and ask him questions about what he saw to try and thwart The Nun.

          What we have here is essentially two 45 minute movies put back-to-back.  The first is a boring, and I mean, really really boring roadtrip movie between our three lead characters.  Boring is so generic, Josh.  Can you be more specific?  Why yes, I can.  We travel the Romanian countryside learning nothing about our three characters.  We are given the geography of the abbey where this nun has tragically died.  What’s around it?  Why is it there?  Who does Frenchie trade goods and services with?  The second 45 minute movie is a horror movie inside the depths of the abbey where our 3 characters fight off the evil spirit.  They’re, of course, always splitting up and getting attacked.  I can live with a movie being hokey and predictable, but it was such a long march through the first half of the film, that I was made angry by the littlest things in the second half of the movie.

          The Nun, when it does get to serving its purpose, might set the record for jump scares in a movie.  For the uninformed, a jump scare is when something peeks out from a hallway or around a corner and yells BOO.  Scaring the viewer.  The Nun has a lot of them.  Very few of them are effective, given that the score of this movie is also underwhelming.

          The audience I saw the movie with didn’t seem to be scared by a single thing in the movie.  And towards the end of the film, it does try anything and everything to get you to be scared.  Loud noises, characters being possessed and attacked, water, religion, snakes, anything people are afraid of is in this movie.  It throws a lot at you in the final minutes. 

          The movie is so flawed!  It wasted half the time telling us nothing about our three main characters.  It revealed very little about The Nun’s origins.  I guess enough for the purposes of plot, but I’m still unclear on so much.  There’s no tension, no mood setting, that’s what makes scares effective.  A proper set up.  Fill me with dread, and then attack me.  The Nun fails at the first, so the second misfires. 

          I will pay director Corin Hardy a compliment in that the movie LOOKS great.  Visually, the abbey our finale takes place in is a well-executed set piece.  Our titular Nun is very creepy looking, you know that if you’ve seen the previews for this.  He’s a young director.  Only one movie and a bunch of music videos to his credit.  He’ll be working a lot in the future, I’m sure.

          If you’re a longtime fan of this show, you know I usually say there’s two ways to review a horror movie.  First, as you would any other movie.  And in that sense, this movie is a poor outing.  Secondly, you review it as a horror movie.  Taking into account the scare factor and enjoyment of the audience.  Plot and character development be damned!!!  In that sense, it’s obviously better.  But not by much.  It wasn’t a very fun night at the movies because the first half was so boring.  I didn’t care about these three characters.  Side note, no spoilers, but this movie could have had a higher body count given that none of these characters make it to The Conjuring movies.

          A shared horror universe is a great idea.  Horror fans are as rabid movie goers as comic book nerds.  Why not try it?  It’s an idea that’s working out financially, but artistically it’s been a little lacking.  We’ve been been lucky to have so many high art horror movies lately.  Get Out nominated for Best Picture.  Hereditary earlier this year.  Suspiria in a few months.  Making a horror movie isn’t enough anymore.  You have to add a little extra and make a good horror movie.  The Nun is not that movie.

On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It"   It pains me to answer this with a Skip It.

If you liked The Exorcist, The Conjuring, or The Exorcism of Emily Rose you might enjoy The Nun

2 out of 5 stars for The Nun


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