Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Director: Corin Hardy
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Rating: R for Disturbing Images (but like the main Conjuring movies, it should really be PG-13)
Release Date: September 7, 2018
My favorite part of The Nun is a scene lifted wholesale from The Conjuring, not so much because The Nun is disappointing, but rather because The Conjuring is so great, and I am happy to revisit it. Alas, though, it is indeed the case that The Nun does not offer much that is on the same level as the films it has spun off from.
Every entry in The Conjuring universe thus far, including The Nun, has demonstrated superior craftsmanship, with the original Conjuring perhaps the best example in the entire horror genre this century. The two Annabelle spin-offs have fallen a little short of the two Conjuring proper entries, as the latter have been buoyed by a religious foundation that lends some decently weighty thematic resonance. The paranormal investigations of the Warrens might not be mainstream Catholicism, but they do present an interesting struggle between God and evil. The Nun would seem to be well-equipped to grapple with these same metaphysical ideas, but the fact that it takes place in a monastery feels practically beside the point.
Nevertheless, two religious figures – shown the way by their villager guide Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) – are indeed the people sent to investigate some paranormal goings-on. In this case, it’s courtesy of the demon Valak (Bonnie Aarons), who walks the Earth by blending in with his surroundings, which for our purposes means that he stalks around the monastery in a nun’s habit. Father Burke (Demián Bichir) seems like an upstanding-enough priest, but way more in over his head than he realizes. Then there is young and enthusiastic novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) – much is made of the fact that she has not taken her vows yet, which one might imagine might make her more susceptible to Valak’s or alternately to make her more pure and thus harder to corrupt. But in practice it just gives hope to the clearly smitten Frenchie that she might change her mind and not become a bride of Christ. And that is emblematic of the entirety of The Nun. It’s got the right ingredients for a horror classic – foreboding setting, creepy atmosphere, combustible character motivations – but its mind seems to be elsewhere.
The Nun is Recommended If You Like: Discovering connections between movies in the same franchise, whether or not they make sense
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Habits