“The NUN” Is A Scareless, Messy, Catholic Nightmare
If you follow my writing here on Broke-Ass Stuart, you know that I am a huge horror fan. I’m a fan of all sorts of horror, good & bad alike. Whether it’s a major release or a new indie gem, I’m usually down to give it a watch. You’d also know from previous writings that I consider James Wan to be the current top of the horror mountain as far as directors & writers go. The Conjuring and its direct sequel were great. They were scary, well made, well acted, unnerving, entertaining, perfectly cast and will definitely pass the test of time. Unfortunately, Hollywood has decided to cash in on those films and make films that fall within “The Conjuring Universe”. Annabelle was about the possessed doll and it was a snooze. Annabelle: Creation was the prequel to that and it also sucked but it was at least fun. And now, we have The Nun, which just came out, and I’m sad to say that it’s not good.
The Nun is based off the demon in The Conjuring 2 known as Valak. In the previous film, Valak was a hell of a monster and very scary for the most part. In The Nun, Valak is only in the movie for about 15 minutes and that was a huge misfire. The story centers around a priest (played by a Gabriel Byrne knock-off) that is being sent by The Vatican to an abbey in Romania to investigate a nuns suicide and the circumstances surrounding it. He’s instructed to pick up a young nun on the way (Taissa Famiga) who experiences visions and they’re to meet up with a local villager (played by a knock-off Ryan Phillippe) who found a nun hanging from the abbey. They all meet up, he takes them to the abbey (through a cross-filled graveyard) and then he leaves them there at the stupid ass priest’s request. Supernatural stuff happens, creepy nuns show up all over the place, things creak and some really cliché shit tries unsuccessfully to be scary. Valak is a demon that is within the church, sealed behind a symbol in the bowels of the church. The only way for Valak to escape is by possessing a host body, like an unholy STD of the soul. The nuns pray 24/7 in shifts to fend off the possession because the demon is floating around the church ever since the church and seal were damaged in the war. I won’t spoil what happens but the whole third act is ridiculous and not scary and full of Sci-Fi original level CGI.
This movie misfired all over the place. The director clearly banked on the creepiness of shadowy ghost nuns and the rickety old church for atmospheric, gothic horror scares along with paint-by-numbers jump scares. And because it was a ghost movie, ultimately, there was an overload of bad CGI as well. It made for a frustrating horror experience. This isn’t to say that they didn’t try. The tone they were going for was as clear as a ghost. They wanted to build a gothic horror film that built the foundation The Conjuring was based on. The issue is that they relied too much on spooky shadows and foggy graveyards and not enough on the actual demons supposedly inhabiting this church. Valak is a scary ass demon, no doubt. When Valak takes the form of the nun, it’s scary as fuck. It only happens a handful of times, though, and the third act is so laughable that it removes any scary part of Valak. CGI makes a huge difference in a negative way in this movie because they use it way too much. The whole atmosphere of this film, being set in an old run down church and shadowy graveyard, was ripe for great set scares but they stepped away from that and added a bunch of “out of the shadows” jump scares that you could see coming a mile away.
The other big issue was the acting. Taissa Famiga did great as the young nun with visions of Valak. She owned her role and ran with it. Everyone else was bad, which took you completely out of the moment. Part of making a horror film work well is making you care about the people on screen enough to give a shit whether they live or die. You couldn’t have built a more paper thin, cliché back story of the priest in this one so you just didn’t care about him. He’s a drunk with nightmares of a botched exorcism. That’s it. He has nothing else so you’re not invested at all. And Frenchie, the villager that helps them, is a French Canadian bro-douche and a wuss until the third act. He sucks and you almost never forget that he sucks the whole time.
In closing, I guess I’m just saying the movie was a massive disappointment. Maybe I went in with too high of expectations, maybe it was just a shitty entry in the franchise or maybe it just wasn’t my thing. Whatever the case may be, I’d say there are probably scarier AirBnB rentals in Romania than this movie. It gets a 2 out of 5 from me.