Directed by: Corin Hardy
Premise: A spinoff of The Conjuring 2. Set in the 1950s, a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) and a Catholic priest (Demián Bichir) investigate a suicide at a convent in Romania. They discover a demonic force that takes the form of a nun.
What Works: The Nun is not a good film but the actors acquit themselves. Taissa Farmiga plays a novitiate who has not yet taken her vows and given herself to the Church and to her profession. Farmiga includes subtle moments that hint at the character’s internal temptation and revelation. Demián Bichir is also good as the priest investigating the haunting. Bichir gets beyond the stoic stereotype of the priesthood and portrays his character as a man who is scared and sometimes confused. Also notable is Jonas Bloquet as a local who escorts the Catholic representatives to the convent. Bloquet could be a charismatic presence if he weren’t saddled with such stupid material.
What Doesn’t: The Nun has a lot of problems but its most essential shortcoming is that it just isn’t scary. The movie will make viewers jump but only by forcing us with a jerk of the camera and a crash on the soundtrack. There’s no art to that. The filmmakers aren’t able to concoct an atmosphere of dread that would be truly scary. Instead the movie goes into lulls between its forced shocks. The Nun is a sloppy film. The special effects are not very good and the makeup and mechanical effects look like cheap Halloween lawn decorations. Also artificial is The Nun’s setting. The film takes place in the 1950s but it doesn’t feel of its period. Taissa Farmiga’s character in particular is anachronistic; she is a novitiate in a pre-Vatican II convent but she is presented as a contemporary woman and her character feels artificial. The editing is also sloppy. The action doesn’t cut together and there is little sense of spatial relationships or continuity. Especially clumsy are the scenes of the Warrens from The Conjuring 2 that bookend the movie. The story doesn’t need these scenes and they reveal a further problem with this movie. The Nun is a prequel and the whole point of a prequel is to deepen our understanding of the existing films. The Nun reveals nothing about the demon that we didn’t know already. This spin off is devoid of any creative inspiration. The Nun mostly just walks through haunted house and possession clichés, ripping off movies such as The Exorcist II and Demon Night and it is a prime example of a problem with so many contemporary supernatural horror films. The Nun uses religious images with no regard for what they mean. The crosses and other symbols are little more than props that the filmmakers take at face value and the film’s idea of evil is just generic spookiness.
Bottom Line: The Nun is the kind of film that only exists to cash in on an existing franchise. The filmmakers made no effort to craft something creative or entertaining or even competent. It’s lazy filmmaking that never aspires to anything beyond the lowest common denominator.
Episode: #716 (September 16, 2018)