HomeMovies'The Nun' Succeeds In Its Setting, Falls Short Within Its Conventional Narrative

‘The Nun’ Succeeds In Its Setting, Falls Short Within Its Conventional Narrative

The Nun Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

With 2016’s The Conjuring 2the Warrens venture to Great Britain to investigate what would be referred to as the Enfield Poltergeist. The movie was formatted as a story within a story. While the Warrens were dealing with what seemed to be an instance of possession, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) was waging her own battle with a demon named Valak.

Valak was revealed to be the ultimate evil pulling the strings all along. Who doesn’t remember the “hallway/painting” scene? Coupled with a brief tease in Annabelle: Creation, audiences were left wondering about the origin of this demonic nun with pale skin, a creepy smile, and eyes devoid of anything holy?

The Nun is technically the “first” movie in the Conjuring universe. Starting in Romania in 1952, a nun takes her own life at the Cârța Monastery. Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) are sent to investigate along with Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who discovers the nun and serves as their guide. Upon arrival to the monastery, they realize that there are rather maleficent forces at work.

Director Corin Hardy and screenwriter Gary Dauberman establish a story that you are familiar with. Slowly but surely, things start to go wrong with hauntings for our main characters. Unfortunately, you don’t feel an emotional attachment to Father Burke and Sister Irene, in particular. There’s a sub plot that is established with Father Burke that is used as his affliction, but is only touched on briefly.

Also, with Sister Irene, it’s stated many times that she has not yet taken her vows to become a nun. That plot device is also something that is made to drive the character along, but you don’t resonate with it enough to champion her journey. Frenchie’s character gives the movie a sense of charisma and personality. It seems like everyone else is stone cold locked into the basis of the plot.

There are tie-ins that should be familiar to the Conjuring faithful. The “shadow” manifesting into something physical is utilized again briefly and crosses suddenly turning upside to hint at something being afoul. Those are nice instances of continuity. However, in a movie that is contingent on jump scares, it tends to telegraph itself. The Nun starts to fall in love with the pan shot where a character scans the room and the sound drops out. All of a sudden, something appears and it repeats itself. By applying this so much, you begin to anticipate the scares before they come. Scenes in the first Conjuring movie held on for a minute longer to keep you guessing.

The movie is at its scariest in the slow reveals of Valak itself. Especially, the first real instance that you gaze into the nun’s eyes with a slow turn. Cinematographer Maxime Alexandre is able to maximize the grand scale of Cârța Monastery. In the beginning of the movie, you see the vastness of it. It’s out in the middle of nowhere in the woods where everything seems dilapidated and abandoned. With a movie universe that establishes its creep factor within a smaller environment, it begins to be a lot of space to fill. That even permeates into the plot that turns to a twist that leaves you puzzled, but not intrigued.

The presence of Valak along with Annabelle have both been hovering around the Conjuring universe as the driving forces of evil. Within this universe, it establishes the haunted house theme and it expands upon it with a tale of two families in uniquely different situations that bring them together. The Warren family goes to help people with their gifts, but also, has caveats to using them. You feel a connection to both sides. These are families that are essentially connected even though one family is more equipped with the tools to help the other. Clearly, the star of The Nun is the demon itself, but with an origin story that seems so tried and true, outside of a few scares, you’ll have to remember the previous movies to get how big of a threat Valak is.

With The Conjuring 2 and how Valak was set up as a viable threat, The Nun at large does not do the possible legend justice. One of the main reasons why The Conjuring universe is so successful is that it’s able to expand upon things in horror you have seen before like 1982’s Poltergeist and give it its own individual flare. It’s both a throwback and fresh at the same time.

The Nun runs into a lot of the same problems that 2014’s Annabelle did. The build up to these characters seemed more terrifying than what they were given in their actual movies. Perhaps there is room for The Nun to improve like its doll companion in a future movie.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Nun is currently playing in theaters nationwide.


Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.

Most Recent

Stay Connected