For my reviews of the other Conjuring films, click the following links:
Well, if the Conjuring franchise was good enough for one Farmiga woman, might as well throw in the other.
I’ve avoided watching the second trailer simply because I don’t want anything possibly spoiled. Based on the teaser, it looks like one of the nuns has seen a particular nun that stands out and the rest of the folks surrounding her investigate, or whatever. The teaser was vague as all hell.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Bonnie Aarons (THE CONJURING 2, THE PRINCESS DIARIES  and THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT , and upcoming films WIZARDREAM  and ADI SHANKAR’S GODS AND SECRETS ), Taissa Farmiga (TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT , AMERICAN HORROR STORY [2011 – ongoing], and the upcoming WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE ), Demián Bichir (ALIEN: COVENANT , THE HATEFUL EIGHT , and upcoming films CHAOS WALKING  and GRUDGE ), Jonas Bloquet (VALERIAN  and ELLE ), and Charlotte Hope (A UNITED KINGDOM ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Corin Hardy, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Penning the screenplay is Gary Dauberman, known for IT (2017), ANNABELLE, and upcoming films IT: CHAPTER 2 (2019) and Annabelle 3 (2019). Composing the score is Abel Korzeniowski, known for NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016). The cinematographer is Maxime Alexandre, known for ANNABELLE: CREATION, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016), and upcoming films SHAZAM! (2019) and CRAWL (2019). Finally, co-editing are Michel Aller (ANNABELLE: CREATION, LIGHTS OUT , and the upcoming SHAZAM!) and Ken Blackwell (THE BYE BYE MAN  and THE EXPENDABLES ).
Overall, I’m pretty damn stoked for this movie. With the exception of ANNABELLE, I’ve loved the Conjuring films as horror that I’d watch. That have a knack for creating solid to great characters, and more than a few decent scares. Not that it’s hard to rattle me, as I’m very nightmare prone, but good stories and characters are damn worth it in the end. Sign me up and scare me shitless.
This is my honest opinion of: THE NUN
Set in Romania, circa 1952. The ancient demon Valak (Bonnie Aarons) has been safely imprisoned within the dungeons of the Cârța Monastery, but has recently been unleashed and attacked two nuns, killing one, and the other committing suicide by hanging herself. The Vatican learns of the tragedy and appoints Father Anthony Burke (Demián Bichir) and the young novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to travel to the abbey to find out what happened and how to stop it.
Damn it… this was disappointing. So, the first thing on everyone’s mind is likely, “is it scary”? Well, my answer is… not very.
The movie’s opening is actually not that bad. A pair of nuns get attacked, one hangs herself as Valak approaches her, seemingly keeping Valak imprisoned in the abbey. That’s actually the best thing that this movie does. Creating atmosphere. This monastery is creepy. The pathway with all of the graves with crosses, and the bells to ring if you were unjustly buried, that was creepy. It’s a cliché that there’s fog on the ground, but… no, that’s a cliché, there is no “but.” Please stop that, horror movies. Please?
And there are some fun set-ups. Like, the creepy kid with the long-ass tongue leading Burke to a grave, and he’s ringing that dinky little bell. I mean, we know he’s going to get out, but the way the scene is shot when he thinks he’s not alone in the grave is well done. The movie also has a penchant to take our expectations and play with them. There’s a scene where Irene wakes up from sleeping and sees a nun praying at the foot of her bed, but when she says to the nun, “Hello,” the nun quickly freezes, and the sound of a bone breaks. We can already assume that the nun isn’t real, but the presentation is still chilling, and it does this a couple times pretty effectively.
And while I will go into why Valak is a terrible villain, I will state that I think it’s a good idea for a villain. “The Defiler, the profane,” and it destroys crosses, crucifixes, there’s something to this character than challenges a person’s faith and could potentially be a great monster and master manipulator. I mean, in CONJURING 2, it enslaves ghosts! There’s something eerily creepy about that.
Sadly, like God beyond that door, my compliments end here.
What the Conjuring franchise has mostly done well was create solid to great characters, especially in the Warrens. However, both Burke and Irene are pretty bland. By no means terrible, as both Bichir and Farmiga are good actors, but there’s just nothing much to them. Burke had a bad exorcism, resulting in the death of a young kid. Alright, but what does that have to do with the situation at hand? Just a little something for Valak to take and taunt him with? That seemed pretty forced, and isn’t exactly resolved by the end of the movie. But while Burke and Irene are just bland, Frenchie is not very well-written either. When he first meets the two characters, he comes off like he’s this hot shit lover of women, thinking that he sired a child or something and her father is there to tell him off. Even when he finds out that’s not the case, he makes advances on her just like that. Even once he finds out that she’s a novitiate, he’s still barely shows respect. While not the most unlikable character ever put to film, he’s still not the strongest written. First impressions can last a long time and Frenchie’s left a bad taste in my mouth.
Also, the Vatican says that Burke needs to team up with Irene. However, when he approaches her, she says that she’s not familiar with Romania. So… why did the Vatican want her with him? This is never explained. Sure, she does things in the movie, but those are things that could have been done by any experienced nun with nerves of steel. What made Irene so special to the mission? You know something’s wrong with the writing when the movie itself asks a question and never answers it. Plus, it’s downright lazy, and that’s not what the Conjuring films are known for.
And… did this movie really throw in zombie nuns? I’m pretty sure it did and it’s about as silly as it sounds.
However, there’s some elements to the story that I might have missed. For one thing, the backstory of Valak’s initial imprisonment is that it was sealed away, but then World War II bombs inadvertently broke that seal and now Valak has been otherwise freed from that seal. But now there’s some narrative problems, which causes me to ask questions. One, if the bombs dropped during World War II, why doesn’t this movie take place during that time; the mid-1940’s? Why the early 1950’s? Two, as the date is set in stone, what took Valak so long to kill all of the nuns in the abbey? If the two nuns in the beginning of the film were the last of them, why didn’t it possess… any of the previous nuns it killed? It’s clearly stated that Valak needs a host in order to leave the abbey, but it waited until the very last one to try and possess? What sense does that make? Three, how did the nuns not reach out to the Vatican when their Sisters were dying left and right? Or was Valak on a killing spree and killed all of them quickly before anyone could run for help? None of that is made clear. Four, we’re led to believe by the end of the movie that Valak had indeed possessed Frenchie, which feeds into THE CONJURING, specifically the lecture scene that ultimately gave Lorraine her vision of Ed dying, which wouldn’t be resolved until CONJURING 2. So… the question is, why didn’t Valak possess Lorraine? If she was too powerful for Valak, how did Valak manage to haul its ass all the way to England for its Enfield haunting? Frenchie shot and killed himself. I suppose a theory could be that Valak ended up possessing his unnamed wife, who survived Frenchie’s possession and went to England, and that could be grounds for a sequel, but then the questions would be where the wife went. All questions that no one really cares about answering.
Overall, this was a pretty big let-down. I so rarely look forward to horror films and when this was announced, I really wanted it to be good. Sadly, it’s not. I won’t say it’s the worst, I won’t call it trash, but it’s not what I wanted to see as far as something that is connected to the rest of its respective franchise. I maintain that Valak is a fun villain and could be great if someone knew what to do with it, a well-made film, and some solid acting. However, it’s just not that compelling of a story. The scares are pretty weak, the characters aren’t strong, and far too much of Valak makes no sense. By the end of it, it may not be as bad as ANNABELLE, but it’s not nearly as good as the core Conjuring films, making this the second to worst entry in the series. As a recommendation, I say… pass. If you must see it, see it at a matinee screening or a discount day. Best case, save it for a rental, but honestly, even that’s a bit of a stretch. I don’t regret seeing it, but I don’t think I’d see it again.
My honest rating for THE NUN: a weak 3/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews:
- THE PREDATOR
- A SIMPLE FAVOR
- WHITE BOY RICK
- UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION