[Early Review] The Nun (2018)

Director: Corin Hardy

Cast: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet

Screenplay: Gary Dauberman

96 mins. Rated R for terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images.

 

I’ve been a fan of The Conjuring universe since the first film, and outside of the original Annabelle film, I’ve found them to be very competently put together as individual films while also contributing nicely to a larger framework. Still, though, there’s been something rather concerning about The Nun and, looking to the future, The Crooked Man. What’s been bothering me about both films have been the narrative that’s been set up within The Conjuring 2. The Nun and The Crooked Man are both very connected to the Warrens and the specific case that they are working on within the film, The Crooked Man purposefully created as an apparition meant to frighten or horrify one particular child. I just couldn’t see how a film could be formed that respected the characters that have been built and forge a new interesting path. Last night, I saw The Nun at an early press screening, and while being a more competent film that expected, it still struggles to exist without hanging on previous films.

The Nun follows Father Burke (Demian Bichir, The Hateful Eight, Alien: Covenant), a sort-of Catholic detective, who is sent by the Vatican to investigate a horrible suicide by a nun at an abbey in Romania. He is joined by Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, The Final Girls, TV’s American Horror Story), a novitiate who suffers from disturbing visions, as the two attempt to unravel the mystery of the suicide and determine what horrors lie within the walls of the abbey.

Comparatively speaking, The Nun is not the worst film in this universe, but it rest on the lower side of things for several small reasons that build to a less-than-incredible experience. The way the film starts made me feel like Warner Bros. put their hands in the post-production process as the opening has a minute-long prologue featuring a montage from The Conjuring 2 all about the Nun. It felt very unneeded and very forced as if the studio-head walked out in front of the audience at the beginning and shouted, “Remember the nun from The Conjuring 2? That’s what this movie is!” You don’t need that. I think without the forced connectivity to the rest of the universe, The Nun works fine as a standalone film. I took a friend to Annabelle: Creation who had only seen the original The Conjuring. He didn’t take issue with the universe connections and enjoyed himself nonetheless. There’s some overworking of the universe connections later on that also could have been trimmed as more of an Easter egg to fans instead of a full-blown forced explanation as well.

I also wasn’t a fan of secondary character Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet, Elle, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), the man who helps guide Father Burke and Sister Irene to the Abbey, and the humor he brings to the film. Bloquet is not entirely to blame here. I just found that the combination of the dialogue in Gary Dauberman’s (It, Within) script with Bloquet’s portrayal and the direction by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) combined to make some unfunny pieces of humor that didn’t fit the tone of the narrative. Nothing altogether cringeworthy, but just out of place.

Now, that’s not to say that I hated the film. Far from it. I found myself thoroughly interested in the mystery and the intrigue. I wanted more of it. I did jump quite a bit at some of the more well-planned out scares (though many of the scares are rather similar, someone getting stalked by a nun), and I mildly enjoyed the partnership between Bichir’s Burke and Farmiga’s Irene. It just wasn’t up to par with what I’ve come to expect.

All in all, The Nun is a scary enough film with a flawed screenplay and a little glaringly obvious studio assistance. It’s a nice enough film that should satisfy the audience even if it falls short of its franchise expectations.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

Have you seen The Nun yet? What’s your favorite film in The Conjuring universe? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

For my review of David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s The Conjuring, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s The Conjuring 2, click here.

 

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