In the dark recesses of an ancient Romanian convent, two nuns open a door to something evil and unholy. One of the nuns is dragged away screaming to her death. The other nun grabs a set of keys from her dying comrade’s hands, runs upstairs, ties a noose around her neck, and jumps out a window hanging herself. A deliveryman later comes to the convent and discovers the rotted body, hanging out a window and being devoured by crows. Thus begins the The Nun!
The Nun is the latest entry in The Conjuring horror franchise. It’s based on a story written by Conjuring director James Wan and is directed by newcomer Corin Hardy whose only other feature credit is another horror film The Hallow. The movie stars Demián Bichir as Father Burke, a priest sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide, and Taissa Farmiga (much younger sister of Vera Farmiga who plays the lead role of Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies) as Sister Irene, a young novitiate recruited from England to assist in the investigation.
The Nun is an effectively creepy and skillfully crafted Halloween funhouse ride of a movie. It takes its time building atmosphere and setting the stage before unloading a barrage of nightmarish scenes and images. As with a Halloween funhouse, the emphasis is on scary imagery more than on cohesive and lineal storytelling. While a far cry from David Lynch levels of surrealism, this is not a movie that lets its own logic get in the way of trying to scare you. In the end this is both a fallacy and strength of the film.
The strength is that this movie allows imagination to run wild; taking whatever nightmarish pictures the creators have in mind and putting them on screen. The fallacy is that there is no obvious logic to the power and abilities of the evil in this film. It seems to have virtually unlimited power in one scene and can be defeated with a blow to the head in the next. This does not detract too much from the theatrical experience, but does take away from any lingering sense of dread once the movie is over. While this is a fun atmosphere movie that’s effectively creepy and contains some good jump scares, the experience seems largely limited to the theater itself. This is not a movie that is likely to linger with the viewer for very long after the credits role.
In total The Nun is a solid fun Halloween film that delivers on chills. The plot doesn’t contain any big surprises and the ending doesn’t deliver any big twists, but it is a solidly crafted atmosphere movie that allows itself to run free with nightmarish imagery and takes the time to properly build up to its climax. It’s not in the top tier of horror films you’ll ever see but it is above average and worth your time if looking for some good holiday season entertainment.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest (Demián Bichir) with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows (Taissa Farmiga) 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.
Cast: Demian Bichir, Tarissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet
Directed by: Corin Hardy