THE NUN review by Patrick Hendrickson – The Conjuring universe’s latest falls surprisingly flat

THE NUN review by Patrick Hendrickson – The Conjuring universe’s latest falls surprisingly flat

This production is a spin-off film of THE CONJURING series which attempts to illuminate the backstory of the mysterious Nun from THE CONJURING 2. “Attempts” would be the operative word in that sentence as this movie instead becomes a rather amateurish attempt at creating a scary environment based primarily around religious imagery and lore.

Tension is not as simple as having shadowy figures appear behind the protagonists every other frame. Nor is tension created by having long silences continually broken my sharp and sudden sound effects. The filmmakers of THE NUN fail to grasp a basic understanding of how to craft a tense environment and instead rely on tricks such as these. That reliance quickly wears thin as most of the “scares” present within this film get boiled down to one or the other. The third and by far the least effective trick that is employed would be to have hideous monsters roaring loudly at the camera. These are all tricks that work in creating jump-scares, but how unambitious a production is this if that is all they are going for?

The moments where this production takes itself less seriously are by far the most entertaining. There are some comedic elements that almost make you wonder if this is not an outright satire of the franchise and genre. Sadly, the ratio of these comedic moments to lackluster scares is a sharply uneven one. On the whole, I cannot help but question the logic of this franchise’s continual efforts to expand itself by crafting entire films based of relatively minor characters. Annabelle the doll has had two films thus far and this production sets itself up for a very easy sequel. This is done in part by ending things on a very boring cliffhanger and by leaving a few lingering questions. Ed and Lorraine Warren encountered The Nun in the 70s so there is a 20-year gap between these two stories which leaves ripe ground for more sequels. The issue is, this leaves THE NUN feeling like a relatively pointless and unfulfilling chapter in this saga. This is true even as a self-contained story due to the lack of resolution or conflict in regard to the main characters.

The lead actors are underwhelming and lack any kind of chemistry. Father Burke (Demián Bichir) feels like a mixture of Damien Karras (from THE EXORCIST) and Van Helsing (any DRACULA movie) but is lacking in the sympathetic nature of the former and gentlemanly charm of the latter. He is given a “tragic” backstory that has a threadbare relation to the current events and which is not resolved in any way. Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is introduced as somewhat rebellious towards Catholic doctrine, but nothing is made of this either. Aside from her introductory scene she is completely lacking in personality. Finally, there is Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who could be removed from the film with nearly no changes necessary to the script. They quite simply are boring and one-dimensional characters who fail to garner any relatability at any point in this story. The Nun herself is as much a mystery now as she was before and perhaps less interesting in general.

The jump-scares might be effective enough, but they are low-effort and unashamed of being so. This just feels like a lazy production all around and that laziness earns THE NUN a 2/5.

THE NUN opens September 7, 2018

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