I ain’t having nun of this.
Synopsis: When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned. (Warner Bros.)
Starring: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, and Jonas Bloquet
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Director: Corin Hardy
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 96mins
The Conjuring universe has expanded considerably ever since the original film back in 2013. This film, The Nun, based on the character that originated back in The Conjuring 2, is now the series’ third spinoff film. The previous two spinoff films have yet to match up to the main two films in the series and that is still the case with The Nun. It’s hard to compete with the compelling pairing of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine Warren but the spinoff films have yet to replicate anything close. This may be a slightly unfair bar, however, horror films in general need us to care about their characters in order to get the full effect of its scares.
The story this time around was about a priest named Father Burke (Bichir) and a novitiate named Sister Irene (Farmiga) who were sent to investigate an abbey in Romania after a young nun took her own life under mysterious circumstances. Once they arrive, they were faced with a series of generic jump scares all while their investigation seemingly going nowhere. This made the film incredibly dull to watch as characters wandered in a contrived and incredibly cliched fashion with questionable character decisions triggering unoriginal scare after unoriginal scare.
In addition to being bored, you will be cringing as well thanks to a mediocre script and some unfunny humor. The worse culprit had to be a French-Canadian (which is a detail that somehow matters to the story) character named Frenchie (Bloquet). While it makes sense to add a non-religious character, he served very little purpose in the plot other than the fact that he was French and he often served as the comic relief. The amount of humor in the film was surprising and there needs to be breaks in tension in these types of films but it just didn’t work at all.
There is a point to all of this eventually if you haven’t tuned out yet but it almost didn’t matter as it was the cliched convoluted explanation we’ve come to expect. One of the things the film does a great job at is creating the ambiance with some good cinematography and a suspenseful score, however, the film failed to fill it with anything remotely compelling. There was never any sense of stakes here for the characters and the fact that this was a prequel to the Conjuring films took away from the ending since we know that The Nun/Valak comes back. For those wondering how this film connects to the others, it does in a very clear-cut way.
Despite everything else, the acting was fine across the board. No one ever did all that much with Bichir’s Father Burke just accompanying Farmiga’s Sister Irene and giving her plenty of exposition along the way. Both Bichir and Farmiga had decent chemistry but it almost didn’t matter as the film failed to give us enough reason to care for either of them. Farmiga got the brunt of the focus here though the story never clearly explained why Sister Irene was there in the first place. While some may be fine with this, that fact became distracting.
Overall, this was a bad, incredibly cliched horror film that fails in just about every aspect of its execution and was mostly dull to watch. There may be some decent atmosphere here but it is squandered by a mediocre script, mediocre direction that not even some okay performances can save. However, die-hard fans of the Conjuring series may find something to enjoy here while others will just be disappointed.