Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned… I bought a ticket to The Nun.
The sudden suicide of a nun in Romania, sparks an investigation by the Vatican who send a priest and a novice to uncover the truth behind the presence of a demonic nun.
In a world where cinematic universes rise and fall in the span of a weekend, The Conjuring universe has seemingly stayed afloat for one pure reason – nobody really knew this universe existed until now. With four movies under its belt, and The Nun making lucky number five, I would have, at one point, congratulated James Wan’s secret universe for being one of reasonable quality and successful world-building… but like I said, I would have at one point. That point is now in the past. Currently we live in a present where The Nun sadly exists.
Just to make you all aware of what movie we are dealing with here, there is a scene in The Nun where the protagonists get there hands on the literal blood of Jesus Christ (no, you did not read that wrong and no, it was not a typo) and, in doing so, one of the characters panickingly exclaim “HOLY SH*T” at the site of it… pure lunacy. The Nun is one of 2018’s most uninspired and idiotic horror movies period – and yes, I did just see Slender Man a couple of weeks ago.
Predictable scares, misplaced comedy and an inescapable dullness runs through the veins of this crappy horror flick. When I left my cinema screening for The Nun, my eyes literally could not adjust to the blue skies of outside. Usually this would not be a problem since almost every cinema experience ends this way, but the issue with The Nun was how bleak and drained and dark and murky the colour palette appeared. Everything in the movie was just so muted and visually deprived of colour, forcing the flick to materialise into such a damp and unattractive picture; hence, ruining my vision after leaving the screening.
However, do not be alarmed, The Nun doesn’t exactly leave you visually impaired – at least not entirely in the physical sense. What the film does blind you to is an ability to distinguish good horror filmmaking with bad horror filmmaking.
Take James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 from 2016 (side note; one of the first horror films I ever reviewed) and compare it with Corin Hardy’s The Nun. Both pictures obviously include the pivotal demonised nun character, but only one of these films manages to build solid terror and amounting tension around the character effectively.
Now the nun is an inherently horrifying presence. The monster completely corrupts such a sacred and pure image of a delicate and heavenly being that the horror of the creature spawns from the shock and confliction found behind the infusion of immovable good and unstoppable evil, all compacted into one entity. So therefore, I have no quarrels with how the nun essentially appears in this film; the nun is terrifying to behold in terms of design. Though it is the overarching horror aspects and how they are executed that separates the quality of The Nun to The Conjuring 2.
What James Wan did to create such an eerie and harrowing environment in The Conjuring 2 was to show rather than tell. He would preview the horror through tension building before instigating the larger bursts of terror. He would not rely on continuous jump scares and knew when comedy worked and fitted well in the narrative of the story. The Nun, meanwhile, does none of this.
The characters in The Nun are subjected to disgustingly predictable jump scares at every turn. You could pinpoint exactly when a scare was coming since the movie would go silent for a matter of seconds and then allow for the loudest of sounds to screech and wake you the hell up. The horror is not built up well and instead it just happens randomly whenever because who cares about proper tension building or character work to actually make the audience care?
I sh*t you not, there is a moment in this film where some pure horror is surprisingly instigated, but then is quickly robbed of its terror because the characters solve the cursed problem immediately as if it were a minor inconvenience. And then – my gosh, you would not believe this – but the characters randomly stumble across a pile of books IN A GRAVEYARD and mutter to themselves “maybe those books can help us find out what’s going on”. And sure enough, the books help them do exactly that…
The Nun is so incompetent, that its painful. It follows every single cliche to a T and does so, so unapologetically, you have to wonder, was there even a point to all this.
I like Demian Bichir, and the image of him as a priest is so fitting and stylishly appropriate, I wish the character was in a different and more superior film. However the acting is poor and the character is so thin he would almost be invisible if you were to flip him on his side. In fact all the characters in this movie are the equivalent of a plain piece of white paper that I would not be surprised if the actors had also been given a script that was just ironically a plain piece of white paper.
This may sound ridiculous to you, but honestly, I feel this movie would have been 100% better if Whoopi Goldberg just reprised her role of Deloris Van Cartier and The Nun was revealed as a casual continuation of the Sister Act movies rather than it bringing The Conjuring series back down to the level of Annabelle. Seriously, just picture it; the nun chasing people around dark hallways and then Whoopi Goldberg giving it a stern talking to. Sounds perfect, right? Well, the comedy would work better in that version, at least.
A movie that offers nothing more than paranoid Christians walking around dimly lit castles and chasing shadows on the walls, The Nun is a complete waste of a recent horror icon. Maybe in a few years, after The Conjuring 3, we will get ‘The Nun: Creation’ which improves upon this flick and gives the demonic creature a better cinematic outing – until then though, enjoy Marilyn Manson, in drag, shouting ‘BOO!’ at French Canadians…
The Nun, without a doubt in my mind, belongs in the… THEATRE OF DOOM!
- Concept Arts 2018, ‘The Nun (2018)’, IMP Awards, IMDb, viewed 8 September 2018, http://www.impawards.com/2018/nun_ver2.html (Featured Image)
- Lemire, C 2018, ‘The Nun’, RogerEbert.com, Ebert Digital LLC, viewed 8 September 2018, https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-nun-2018