Much like The Lord, The Conjuring films work in mysterious ways. The main series of Conjuring films were unlikely hits with audiences as they harkened back to a time when demonic possessions were truly terrifying, maybe not quite Exorcist but it was getting there. But for some reason when it came to the spin-off films they couldn’t strike the same cord with audiences as the main film series did. In a film series that relies on the bizarreness of demonic possession and paranormal activity, I feel the less we know and understand something, the greater the effect it has on us.
The entire horror genre was built on our fear of the unknown, the people behind The Conjuring disagree. The Nun is the next line of Conjuring spin-offs that tells the origin of the demon from The Conjuring 2, and for anyone who saw the Annabelle films will tell you to stay away. Now I’m telling you to stay away because The Nun is one of the most insufferable jump scare infested films this year.
I’ve had to sit through a lot of jump scare infested films through the years, indeed this year when I sat through Winchester I had the same disappointed facial expression as I did sitting through The Nun. But this time I felt more offended by The Nun and its lacklustre attempts to convince horror lightweights they were watching a terrifying film. The build-up to the jump scares is so uninspiring that they all follow the same format. Something will move in the often out of focus background every single time, making the scares all the more predictable. Instead of setting the nerves within the audience it’s more of a sarcastic “here we go again” attitude, even if you can predict the scares right down to the nanosecond they happen, at least one will still get you and make you feel like a fool for falling for it. There is only one instance when the film does something impressing with its set up but is then destroyed by the same silence followed by a loud noise formula.
Now we’ve got the mini-rant out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The story feels so unimportant that it never really gives a chance for the audience to get invested in its characters. Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is sent from The Vatican along with Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) and a local villager who goes by the nickname Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) a French-Canadian as the film says so many times, to investigate whether this abbey in Romania is unholy. The film gives us so little reason to become invested in these characters that they inevitably become scare-fodder to the demonic nun. The Nun certainly tries to make the characters worthwhile by giving them past regrets, but the way their past ties in with the present is laughably weak and don’t lead to anything story wise.
Another annoyance is the film, deciding to be a gothic and quite serious horror for two-thirds of the film, suddenly becoming much lighter towards the end. This stems from the character Frenchie who returns later in the narrative after a good hour of absence from the film. His character at the beginning was set up to be the prince charming of the piece and a possible saving grace of the film due to his charm, but Jonas Bloquet and the writer manage to completely ruin this when towards the end become the comic relief of the piece, armed to the teeth with snappy quips which has no place for the supposed darkness of the narrative.
And why must there be so many saving graces in the film? the deus ex machina machine must be working overtime. For instance, there is a scene in with Father Burke is trapped in a coffin underground with seemingly no way out, but he manages to signal where he is to Sister Irene by ringing a bell which is stupid because it begs the question what is the demon’s intentions to locking him in a coffin? Was it to kill him? Was it to mess with him? Nevertheless, he escapes and when he looks back there are books in the coffin and says, “maybe those books can give us the answers”. Sometimes you have to question if the demon wants to be defeated.
Whatever your reason for wanting to see The Nun, it will leave you unsatisfied. Want to know how the film ties in with The Conjuring? You’ll have to wait until the very end. Want to know more about the demonic Nun? You will be told information you already know. In the end, it becomes a bore to watch, I very nearly closed my eyes but the thought of telling you how bad this film is kept me awake to fulfil my duty. The Nun is a wafer-thin attempt to mimic the brilliance of The Conjuring and is so concerned with the amount of jump scares should be crammed into its narrative it forgets to tell an actual origin story. You’d think it was the work of the devil himself.
Final Result: 1/10 – Dreadful
Have you seen The Nun? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: King of Thieves