“What started as a promising Gothic horror was ruined by poor jump scares and a plot that didn’t really go anywhere.”
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons, Demian Bichir and Jonas Bloquet.
Directed by: Corin Hardy.
I went to see The Nun in the cinema, and already, I wasn’t expecting to be over the moon with the film. From the trailer, it already seemed like it’d be a jump scare heavy flick with characters that I may not necessarily care about and a villain that should have stuck within the frames of the Conjuring 2. I wasn’t sure that The Nun really needed a spin-off origin story, isn’t it the case that what you don’t know is scarier?
When it started, I was impressed by the cinematography and the atmosphere that Corin Hardy and Maxime Alexandre brought to the screen. Seeing these distressed nuns in the old Romanian abbey furiously trying to find a way out of the evil that resides within and the lingering shots of old stone corridors and candles as the only light. It began as if it were going to play out like an old fashioned Gothic horror and that’s exactly what the cinematography and the atmosphere promised.
But sadly, a film isn’t made by atmosphere alone. The problems I found lie with the characters and the story. No one is really given a backstory or really any information that would help you get to know them. The priest, Father Burke, has a tragic story of an exorcism that went wrong many years back but I couldn’t help but feel that it was only really there as a plot device so that they could use some demonic imagery and have him be haunted by at least something in the abbey. Taissa Farmiga’s portrayal of Sister Irene felt flat at times, and we were given almost no information about her other than the fact she had not yet taken her vows, but why? We don’t know. I also found her spiritual powers to only be there for some of the jump scares to take place. Then we had Frenchy, who I felt was just there for comic relief when it wasn’t necessarily needed. Overall, I found it hard to connect with the characters and relate to them throughout.
The Nun herself was more focused on what seemed like pranking the three main characters, locking them in coffins, creating some creepy imagery for them to see but never really putting them in particular danger until the very end of the film. I suppose in a way she was just toying with her victims but there never really felt like there was a direct threat at times.
The story to The Nun came off as very basic, just as long as there was a reason for the three main characters to be at the abbey, the rest can just play out as one jump scare after the other, attempting to frighten the audience but really doing quite the opposite, I thought. There was a jump scare not even 5 minutes into the film and they played out so frequently after that that I came to expect them. I just didn’t feel as scared as I would have liked to, especially after seeing such creepy imagery of Valak in The Conjuring 2. In the end, it all just felt like a reason to connect some of the Conjuring movies together, just to fill in some gaps. Lots of it just really felt like lazy writing to me.
Overall, I feel that there was so much that could have been done with this film for it to even work as a standalone. I was just disappointed with the way the film went, and even with such a successful marketing campaign it could have been so much better. I feel that this film could have been scary, but shot itself in the foot with giving the scares away instantly every time with little to no build up. The thing this film does have going for it though, it’s not necessarily boring. So if you’re into some quick scares and a creepy atmosphere, definitely give it a go.
I’m giving the nun 1 & a half skulls out of 5 (💀1/2)