The Nun – Spooky Fun… For The First Hour

the nun reviewRelease Date: September 6th, 2018
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga and Jonas Bloquet
Director: Corin Hardy
Studio: New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Productions, The Safran Company
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Spoilers: Low
IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | Wikipedia

Rating:

The fifth entry in the CCU (Conjuring Cinematic Universe) has been long awaited… well, not really. They are cranking these things out fast and furious.

Anyway, The Nun is here to continue weaving the web of suspense and horror, helmed by The Hallow director Corin Hardy. A priest and young nun-to-be are tasked with investigating the suicide of a nun at a Castle in Romania. The pair quickly find the castle to be full on spooky and they have to discover just what happened and why.
 
So, The Nun character is apparently the big bad in The Conjuring 2. I’m not sure, I didn’t see that one, but this here is the origin story. Or at least, the story just before.
 
Turns out a castle-turned-convent in Romania was once home to some gnarly devil worship and the Church put a stop to it. But during a bombing raid in WW2, the foundations were damaged and the gateway for devils was opened!
 
Now, hold up. A portal to Hell was opened because a bomb hit? So the portal was a completely physical thing? Like, a boulder being rolled over it woulda done the job? Or were WW2 bombs mystical in nature and wherever they landed they dealt out unholy damage? Okay, I got lost for a minute there.
 
On the case is Demián Bichir as the Priest and Taissa Farmiga as the Nun-to-Be (and her character has no relation to Vera Farmiga’s character in the bigger CCU). They are joined by Frenchy, played by Jonas Bloquet, as their guide to the castle. Things quickly go bad once they arrive and it is up to them to get to the bottom of it and to send the Nun back to Hell!
 
This movie is surprising! The cast is pretty great. We get a haggard old man of a priest in Demián Bichir, a guy who has seen some shit when it comes to the supernatural, and Taissa Farmiga plays a fresh-faced young sister well enough. Jonas Bloquet is a strange, off-brand Ryan Phillipe but he’s fun enough.
 
The movie clearly had a budget, the setting of 1950’s Romanian Castle is a good one. It’s genuinely creepy and spooky and it gives the sort of environment we don’t traditionally get in spooky ghost movies. It reminded me of del Toro’s Crimson Peak in that way, I felt like I really was somewhere otherworldly, not just another house in the suburb, or a solitary rural home possessed by ghosts.
 
Unfortunately, the movie has a comedy problem. While any good horror movie can find moments to work in a bit of humor, to alleviate the tensions before it kills us, The Nun too often drops these moments at weirdly inappropriate times or by stepping on the comedy gas pedal a bit too hard each time. Where the first line or look will generate a laugh, it continues past it, doubling down hoping for a better laugh but never earning it.
 
Now let’s talk about the horror. It’s mostly ghosts, though there is a ghoul or two thrown in for good effect but, when the movie starts flexing it’s CGI muscle, it overstays its welcome. Like a certain scene in the climax of Insidious when the camera is allowed to linger on the monster, or in this case Nun’s, appearance too long it loses its terror quickly. The scares of this movie are predominantly of the jump variety. Jump scares certainly have their place but when they are the backbone of the spooks, eventually you become numbed.  This makes for a third act that hobbles rather than horrifies.
 
It’s too bad. The first two-thirds of The Nun are surprisingly promising but it burns out in the end.