‘The Nun’: No need to say your prayers for this one

Many gaping flaws, unfortunately, outweigh the film’s positives.

In 2013, the horror genre faced a resurgence with the release of the blockbuster The Conjuring, directed by James Wan. Featuring a compelling story, wonderful acting, and enough chills to rival the cold of Alaska, the movie brought back a successful trope that had been missing since the ’70s – the spooky ghost story. Based on the true adventures of a paranormal investigator couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren, the movie was a massive critical and commercial success. Encouraged by this, its creators came up with a plan to spin it off into its own franchise, with a universe of movies similar to the plan Marvel thought up for the Avengers films.

Next on the docket was Annabelle, based on the creepy doll that appears in the first 10 minutes of The Conjuring. After the release of The Conjuring, the doll’s short appearance made such an impact that the creators decided to explore its origins and made this film. It also turned out to be a hit and it was not long before Warner Bros. announced a prequel to Annabelle. But before that, The Conjuring 2 released in 2016 and set the box office ablaze. Like its predecessor, a subplot of the film featuring a terrifying nun created intrigue amongst the audience, and the creators’ next move was to develop a spinoff movie based on this character.

The Annabelle prequel, Annabelle: Creation, proved to be a blockbuster and officially, The Conjuring series of films were established as one of the most profitable in Hollywood. This past weekend, the latest entry, THE NUN, released to huge numbers, being the highest opener in the series. However, does it meet the expectations that audiences have from it? Let’s find out…

The Nun tells the tale of Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who are assigned to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at an Abbey in Romania. Naturally, there is more to this suicide than meets the eye as the three leads are plagued by supernatural happenings all at the behest of the demonic nun character (Bonnie Aarons) seen in The Conjuring 2. Who is she? What is the deep dark secret of her existence? Why did a suicide occur? How does this movie connect to the Conjuring universe? These are the key questions the film has going for it however, sadly, many of these are left unanswered.

From an acting point of view, everyone has done a phenomenal job. However, particular credit must go to Taissa Farmiga for playing the role of Sister Irene with the right combination of innocence, bravery, and intellect. She steals the show with her natural performance.

I also want to single out Bonnie Aarons, who plays “The Nun.” She does not have any dialogue, but her facial expressions are so terrifying, that I am sure for generations she has marked herself as a horror icon to be remembered. Superb casting here!

The special effects and cinematography are perfect. Visually, the film has the tone of the old Hammer films, with looming castles, gray skies, fog, lanterns, low light etc. Not many movies these days use the gothic tone as effectively as this one did. The editing is also crisp, keeping the movie going at a fast pace, which is necessary for any horror or comedy movie to be effective.

However, there are many gaping flaws and unfortunately, they outweigh the positives. This comes not from a directorial level (direction by Corin Hardy is actually quite good) but more at a script level. The script, written by Gary Dauberman, does not reveal anything about the nun’s role in The Conjuring 2, which is why I am sure most audiences want to see this. Although the movie does establish a connection to the franchise as a whole, much is still left as a big question mark. I know a sequel is on the cards, which I hope will answer all the rankling questions remaining.

The scares are also pretty weak. Only a handful of sequences work, such as the opening, the coffin scene, and certain elements of the climax. Otherwise, all other scares are forced or complete duds. When you go to a horror movie, you want to remember moments which were unique and that scared you. Simple jump scares are hardly memorable and are only “in the moment”. Dauberman also wrote IT and Annabelle: Creation, both of which were highly terrifying. Sadly, this one misses the mark more often than not. Furthermore, the audience hardly sees the title antagonist, and I would have loved to see more of “The Nun”.

All in all, this movie was a big disappointment. I give it a 2.5/5. See it once if you are a fan of the franchise or have nothing else to do.

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