Following in the footsteps of The Conjuring prequels a nun is found dangling by the neck outside a Romanian church in 1952. Out of the Vatican steps Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and nun in training Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate the incident uncovered by one Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), who’s two steps away from being the off spring of Pepe le Pew and Ash from Evil Dead.
As a casual horror viewer the novel concept works on it’s own and part of the bigger picture. That and bringing back classic illusions that are becoming extinct in recent memory go a long way: blinding fog, decaying trees, cloudy skies, gloomy graveyards and shadowy rooms. The atmosphere alone sells itself more than the concept. All that’s missing is a werewolf howl to make this Gothic painting bring Christopher Lee back from the dead to take over as the villain.
Which is why the nun herself is the biggest letdown of the entire investigation. The story is simple with likable leads to get attached to (Let’s not forget the scene stealing Frenchie), but the motivations behind the head of the church are too cryptic and unclear to really root for or against (all’s fair in love and horror). Some scenarios are literally gift wrapped in a coffin or a mausoleum, but it’s executed more like a trick-or-treat prank with the lack of casualties and over reliance on jump scares that would bore Freddy Fazbear (How many times can you follow the same haunting memory before it becomes repetitive?). The clown from It wants to feed on children. The Xenomorph from Alien wanted to reproduce. What’s this creature’s goal? To install Stockholm syndrome with thoughts and prayers? It’d be ideal if the brilliant camera swooping didn’t work against itself by outlining when the jack-in-the-box moments will pop out.
The Nun boils down to a really fun haunted house with an unsettling atmosphere, but the main attraction leaves a lot to be desired, heavily relying on jump scares without any clear motivation. The former might’ve been clearly marketed, but why waste another original idea with the something that’s becoming more and more common when each new horror movie is aiming to be the next modern classic? The setting alone is worth the price of admission, but whether or not this works for Conjuring followers is a dice roll of a prediction. There’s nothing different for hardcore horror fanatics, particularly when this year’s seen more inventive competition that could make the sound of a pin drop echo throughout the auditorium. Whatever bigger picture lies ahead for this universe let’s hope writer, Gary Dauben and director Corin Hardy can salvage the full potential of this in either a sequel or another spin-off. If it worked for Annabelle, why not this? A for effort C for execution.
Pros: Unsettling atmosphere, novel concept, likable leads, creative scenarios
Cons: Unclear reality, over saturated jump scares, squandered monster, repetitive structure
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