OK guys, if you are like me and LOVE a good scary film then the thought of going to see the Nun surely is up there, as we are now five movies deep in what I can only say is the most Unlikely of cinematic universes. Now for a cinematic universe to work I feel that each entry needs to function well on their own and not just service the larger story. While there is certainly fun to be had here and there, it often feels like this movie is just trying to slide by on its name recognition alone, which in turn leaves us with a superficial ride, albeit an entertaining one.
Hardcore horror fans will be disappointed to know The Nun is not by any means a nightmare inducing affair. Too many times, the director rely on obvious jump scares which are obviously telegraphed by the plain visuals and dialogue hints. I mean anyone who has seen a horror movie will know that the “casual” mention of bells being placed in coffins in case of an accidental live burial just know this is going to come back at some point. Also how many times will the camera pan away for us to think the demon will appear, only for it to appear through another shot I mean come on we have seen this all before.
One of the Demon’s (Valek) early appearances is almost directly lifted from The Conjuring 2 where we saw this iconic debut. Unfortunately the new version of the scare is less effective as it is similar to what has been done before. Valek now does get some great opportunities to shine, along with its accompanying theme of chants always setting the mood, yet of course this prequel faces the problem that so many others do. We know that any defeat of Valek is only going to be temporary as it is destined to plague Ed & Elaine Warren for years to come.
Though the film isn’t overly horrifying, it definitely boasts some great cinematography and creepy imagery, being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the original Conjuring’s 70’s horror aesthetic. The Director does a great job using the film’s setting in Romania to create an atmosphere and set the mood, unfortunately within that atmosphere isn’t all that shocking or fresh, mostly just a rehash of scares we have all seen before (Maybe even better elsewhere)
From the offset our lead characters aren’t really given much to play with other than just reacting to all the spooky stuff that goes on around them. Damian Bichir’s Father Burke really doesn’t have much to do here other than bring Taissa Farmiga’s Sister Irene to the abbey and drip feed us some exposition once there. Now Farmiga fares better as Sister Irene who bares the brunt of Valek’s malice, even though the reason for her inclusion in the mission is kept very vague both to us as the audience and to her character.
However The Nun’s best character ends up being a total surprise. Frenchie ( Jonas Bloquet). While the farmer, who we see at the start, discovers a dead nun in the film’s opening scene falters at first with a very poor attempt and one-sided flirting with Irene, the Film’s comic relief ends up redeeming himself throughout and I felt myself rooting for him the more I seen him on screen.
Incidentally, the healthy amount of screen time Frenchie gets, ends up making The Nun the funniest movie in the franchise which for a Horror movie isn’t a great thing. Now every horror movie needs some light moments to relieve the tension, but I feel we are given more light hearted moments than scares, which again leads to the confusion where we seen in the trailers and posters that this was or is supposed to be “The Darkest Chapter”.
However if you are interested in how this film connects to the larger Conjuring world you will be pleasantly pleased with the significant callbacks to previous entries. There are nods to every film in the franchise at one point or another yet they are fleeting enough to not distract from the main story. The Nun’s final moments go for broke though, and is a real treat for those who appreciate the narrative like myself. I was pleasantly surprised by what I seen at the end.
DIAGNOSIS – MAJOR SURGERY
Another piece of the Larger Conjuring universe, The Nun is fun. It will provide fans with plenty of dots to connect, but stumbles by not delivering the scares we where led to believe. Along with little to no character development it’s hard to root for the main characters, but needs to rely on its strong visuals and atmosphere and oddly the humour. If you just want more conjuring lore to pine over, you will get that but if you were hoping for “The Darkest Chapter” well let’s just say…Keep Praying.