Given that the character’s appearance in The Conjuring 2 was one of that film’s spooky highlights, it only makes sense that the Nun be deemed worthy enough for her own feature film; I mean, if we can get two films surrounding the less-than porcelain doll Annabelle (2014’s Annabelle and 2017’s prequel Creation), surely a character of such potential as a demonic nun deserves a solo, right?
Despite being billed as “the darkest chapter” within the Conjuring universe of films, The Nun is quite possibly the dullest on offer yet. Things constantly go bump in the night and our main trio of players (Demian Bichir’s Father Burke, Tessa Farmiga’s Sister Irene, and the local French-Canadian affectionately dubbed Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet)) make a habit of wandering inexplicably whenever night falls around, making it supremely difficult to muster up any sense of care for characters who practically deserve whatever horror comes their way.
After arriving at a remote Romanian abbey to investigate the apparent suicide of a nun (this opening scene suggests the film might fulfill on its promise of being legitimately scary), it doesn’t take long for Father Burke and Irene to begin experiencing odd visions – most of which involve nuns. It does however take them a minute to realise all is not well, and instead of hauling their Holy behinds out of this particular haunt, they opt to commit to performing on loop the actions of being suspicious, being scared, and taking to bed; by the time they’re facing the demonic Nun known as Valak (Bonnie Aarons), our investment has long subsided.
Whilst the scares are few and far between (you may howl with laughter more than wince), The Nun at least looks the part of a horror movie with the Gothic locations and rousing musical score appropriately sound for the period setting. Farmiga also does her best with the light material she’s given, injecting her character with a light and warmth that acts as a nice contrast to the darkness that surrounds her; it’s a shame though that the depth hinted at with her character’s doubt over a commitment to God isn’t vastly explored. Bichir leaves little impression and Bloquet feels almost entirely like he belongs in another film – perhaps an 80’s aesthetic scarer like the mentality The Nun attempts to adopt during its OTT finale.
Bookended by moments linking itself to the original Conjuring film, The Nun no doubt hopes this effect will lace its personality with a sense of intelligence because, aside from this connection, it’s running on surface level superficiality.
About The Nun
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.
The Nun (MA15+) is screening in Australian cinemas from September 6th.