"The Nun" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
I had very high hopes when I first watched "The Nun", based off the evil nun Valak from the second "Conjuring" installment. In fact, I would say "The Conjuring 2" is easily the scariest movie of the franchise, and had me quaking in my boots when I first saw it. But, I guess the filmmakers and the visionaries behind the franchise wanted to try a little too hard here, crafting a movie that is both not scary and very dull, with a story and script that can easily put the viewer to sleep rather than terrify them.
The movie is based around the idea of telling Valak's (Bonnie Aarons, who is very chilling and terrifying when she is actually given screen time) backstory, which happens many years before the events in England during the second film. This involves bringing a priest named Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and a novitiate named Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to check out an Abbey where a nun had taken her own life. They are accompanied by a man who is called Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) to check it out as he is the one who found the nun strung by her own rope.
When they get to the Abbey, however, they discover that there is evil lurking at every turn, with the demonic nun hoping to find a vessel into the real world. She will stop at nothing to get her way and possess those in the Abbey, hoping to bring chaos and terror into the world. It is now up to Irene and Burke to put a stop to her for good, looking for any way to reign in this demonic spirit and keep her trapped there.
Now here's the thing - I strongly dislike films that are backstories of a terror that has already gone out and caused havoc in the real world. That's exactly what this film does. It wants us to root for the heroes and hope everything turns out OK for all of them, but we know the demonic demon here still gets out and terrorizes a family years later. Therefore, it is very hard to get attached to any of the characters in this film. At the same time, we can't really believe in the happy ending it promises when we know there is so much more waiting around the corner.
This already marks the movie down a peg in the sense that it won't garner the same emotional reaction or attachment that other films can. But, it fails again by not even telling a very good story. A majority of the film has the main characters walking around and talking, with nothing exciting really happening. This would be fine if they were building towards a slow burn of sorts, but even then it doesn't do that. It just wants to sprinkle in cheap jump scares throughout that do nothing to make this film appealing or terrifying in the slightest.
The actors, especially Farmiga, definitely try to breathe life into this soulless film, but it is simply impossible. While she is a pretty good and enjoyable protagonist (mostly because of Farmiga's performance, following in her sister's footsteps with this franchise), she is the only real promise this movie has to offer. She does have a pretty generous amount of screen time thankfully, but even she can't be enough to save this movie. Bichir's performance is fine for the most part, but he doesn't offer anything new we haven't seen before in movies like this. Frenchie however? There is barely anything for us to go off to make him likable and charming that the movie so desperately wants him to be.
Here's my main complaint with this film - the absence of the actual titular villain until the final five minutes of the film. I understand and appreciate the whole ideology to not show too much of the terrifying antagonist, but this is taking it way too far. This film promised on the scares of Valak and wanting to glorify her, but it simply doesn't. Even when she doesn't show up, she is neither treating or scary in the slightest. This is perhaps the biggest waste of a horror villain in horror movie history.
The filmmakers had a good idea here, but it was just executed very poorly. Watching this for the second time to get my review out before the release of its sequel (and to help refresh my memory), I genuinely think it was more painful to watch the second time around. There is really nothing redeemable about this movie, or anything that would make me want to watch it a second time. I don't have very high hopes for this upcoming sequel, but hey, who knows? They may actually surprise me based on the trailers and images being released. I guess we will find out soon.