The Nun review
One of the biggest tropes within horror movies are the graveyards that sit outside of churches. People see this differently. Some see it as a happy place, knowing their family is with them while they go on Sundays to pray. Some also see it as a sense of dread, knowing their departed loved ones wanted to remain close to their church, even in death. I see it as a circle of life, with us occasionally looking at church to find answers about the unknown, with the graveyard telling us that we're all eventually going to be dead at some point. It's reminds us that time is short and we have to figure out things ourselves.
A graveyard and a church play big parts in today's movie, which is also a part of The Conjuring universe, which also seems to be the only successful movie universe along with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This may be one of the biggest surprises in Hollywood; of all of the mass media and major series that studios have tried to steer into large universes, it's an original movie, The Conjuring, that has found a path to something bigger. As was hinted in The Conjuring 2, we get an expansion story of The Nun.
In 1952, after a spirit taking the form of a nun spreads her terror to a monastery, a nun takes her life by hanging herself. The Vatican learns about it and sends father Burke (played by Demián Bichir) and also brings a "nun in training" Sister Irene (played by Taissa Farmiga). They meet up with a French-Canadian farmer "Frenchie" (played by Jonas Bloquet) who was the one who found the body of the hung nun. Things already look eerie when he takes the Father and Sister to the body, only too see it been moved into a sitting position.
Burke and Irene are given permission to stay to investigate. They discover that a Duke obsessed with the occult built the Monetary during the Dark Ages. The Duke had also summoned a demon called Valak that haunts the place as a nun. Sister Irvine also discovers that the nuns constantly prey to keep the evil in balance. The battle is on with Father Burke seeing if he can rid the abbey of the evil spirit while finding a way to close a rift so that it cannot come back.
The marketing for The Nundid not impress me. The previews made the movie look like a very standard horror movie…and that's what this is. The story is like a lot of haunted house/exorcism movies that tell the same idea that there's a big mystery to it and the evil must be eradicated. Though the nun itself is scary, I don't feel like we learn much about it other then it's evil. I don't understand how this adds to The ConjuringUniverse, as you could cut this out and not miss a thing. A spinoff isn't a bad thing, as long as the characters feel strong enough to carry their own story. This doesn't.
As far as the other characters go, they're your very standard hero, sidekick, and church types that try to exemplify "there's more you don't understand". And yet given how large this church is, you'd think the villagers would have a larger role here. Why couldn't they have their voice and the impact it's had on their town? That's a trope I actually enjoy from horror movies, especially the classic Universal Monster movies.
Speaking of which, if there's anything nice about this movie is the look and design. Unlike the previous Conjuringmovies set within the US and UK, setting it in Romania did make it feel like an older horror film. It has your creepy church, graveyard with fog, the stuff that makes this fun. While I can't say it's a scary movie in tone, it has a scary look that I can imagine will make a mainstream audience feel unnerving. I just wish that more work could have been put within the story to give it more originality and more impact within the world of The Conjuring.
I'll give this two and a half evil nuns out of five. This is neither good nor bad in an enjoyable way. It's your typical kind of bad that makes this more boring then anything. I'll be waiting for The Conjuring 3, but The Nun is nothing to pray for.