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The Nun (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

The Nun

THE NUN (2018)

Starring Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Charlotte Hope, Ingrid Bisu, Sandra Teles, August Maturo, Jack Falk, Lynnette Gaza, Ani Sava, Michael Smiley, Gabrielle Downey, David Horovitch, Tudor Munteanu, Lili Bordán, Scarlett Hicks, Izzie Coffey, Lili Taylor, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.

Screenplay by Gary Dauberman.

Directed by Corin Hardy.

Distributed by Warner Brothers. 96 minutes. Rated R.

The Nun is the fifth movie and second spinoff in the Conjuring series, loosely based on the career of famed ghost hunters and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. (Previously we have seen The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation.) And that is not even counting all the Amityville Horror movies, which were also based on one of the Warrens’ cases but are otherwise not part of this series.

The Nun starts on a slightly different thread of the couple’s universe, though they are not a part of this story, which takes place in Romania in 1952. (There are a couple of quick excerpts from their earlier films that keep the Warrens connected and show that they will run across these spirits later, undoubtedly in the Nun sequel.)

Ironically – or perhaps not – The Nun lead actress Taissa Farmiga is the look-alike younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who played Lorraine Warren in both Conjuring movies. (I kept wondering if they were trying to hint that Taissa’s nun character was to grow to be Lorraine Warren, but I think I was reading too much into the casting and the great similarity of the sister actresses’ looks.)

The Nun’s storyline was teased during a lecture in The Conjuring (in a filmed exorcism scene replayed in the new movie) and the ghostly nun character who haunts this film first appeared briefly in The Conjuring 2.

Like the previous Conjuring movies, The Nun is a very effective fright machine, even if you can’t exactly call it a good movie. However, it gave me the chills in several scenes, and really that is all it was trying to do, so mission accomplished.

They do get credit for going above and beyond for hiring very good, respected actors – if not exactly household names – in the two lead roles. Farmiga (American Horror Story, In the Valley of Violence) and Bichir (Oscar-nominated for Best Actor for the wonderful A Better Life, and co-starred in the FX series The Bridge) are both terrific, even if their characters are not exactly given much dimension to play with in the script. And due to their characters, everything is taken very, very seriously. Honestly, as good as Farmiga and Bichir are, only third lead Jonas Bloquet has the fun, light touch that such cheesy exploitative horror deserves.

The storyline – if you can call it that – has a Vatican miracle detective/demon hunter Father Burke (Bichir) and an aspirant nun Sister Irene (Farmiga) going to a small village in Romania to investigate the apparent suicide of a local nun. Sister Irene is chosen because (like Lorraine Warren) she has a history of visions. (The film teases the idea that the Sister has been to the Romanian village before, although she denies it a couple of times in the script, and they never resolve that plot thread.)

Once they arrive at the abbey – a huge castle-like and Gothically grand place – they find that neither the nuns nor the villagers seem to want to help them, other than a French-Canadian expatriate nicknamed Frenchy (Jonas Bloquet).

And hiding in the corners and shadows, watching the goings on and plotting evil, is a demonic, deathly pale, yellow-eyed nun.

That’s pretty much it, the Father and the Sister try to survive two days in the huge place, fighting off the evil force and trying to save themselves and the nuns. Cue the jump scares, turn them up to 11, and you have a movie.

Like I said, it isn’t exactly a good film, but that can be said about most of the Conjuring movies. (Only the first Conjuring could really be called a good film.) This prequel has little to do with the other films, other than the slight connections mentioned above.

But does it work? Is it scary?

Yeah, pretty much. Despite a climax that goes way, way over the top, there are some very chilling moments in The Nun. If you’re looking for a house of horrors, you could do a lot worse. If you’re looking for a movie with deep characterizations and that actually makes sense, then maybe The Nun should not become your habit.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: September 7, 2018.

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