The Nun: Why Nun of You Should See It
‘The Nun’ jumped into the spotlight following its impressive opening weekend, grossing nearly 53.5 Million after it hit theaters on September 6th, easily marking the best debut in the series’ history (2013’s “The Conjuring” held the previous record at 41.8 Million). However, despite its success, I believe the 5th installment in the ever expanding “Conjuring” Universe is less than impressive.
For the most part, The Conjuring Films are consistently well done - intelligent paranormal stories grounded in some kind of reality. With “The Nun” the expected production elements are strong once again, featuring the classic “Conjuring” atmosphere, dark looming lights, typical gothic horror feel, plus there’s literally fog everywhere, and the design of the Abbey (where much of the action takes place) is just the right amount of creepy. The casting was also strong - with Taissa Farmiga as ‘Sister Irene’ and Damian Bichir as ‘Father Burke’, both featured not only as the movies lead Characters… but some of the only characters, as there are only about 6 characters in the entire film.
What I’m trying to say is, all of the pieces were there for another winning entry in The Conjuring franchise… however, the movie turns out to be a valueless addition, amounting to little more than jumpscare gimmicks for 90 excruciatingly long minutes. There are number of reasons I believe this movie was a flop, but here are what I believe are the 3 biggest contributors to its horrifically embarrassing downfall.
1. The Nun is old news
One of the most obvious weaknesses being revealed as Warner Bros continues to pump out movies for The Conjuring Universe, is that they didn’t anticipate a “Conjuring Universe”. It’s becoming abundantly clear that there wasn’t much of a plan for anything past 2013’s “The Conjuring” - or arguably 2016’s“The Conjuring II” (with the exception of Annabelle). “The Nun” serves as a perfect example of this. *Conjuring II Spoilers* Originally introduced in “The Conjuring II”, the Nun (otherwise known as “Valak, the defiler, the profane, the marquee of Snakes”) serves as the movie's title paranormal villain, terrorizing a family in Great Britain and forcing paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to intervene. What ensues is nearly 135 minutes of horror movie genius-ending with the demise of Valak as Lorraine Warren condemns him back to Hell. Seeing the characters introduction and departure from the series all in one film - which was extremely well done. And based off of that success, fans and producers alike wanted to see more of the pale faced demon. But that in itself became the problem in the newest instalment… we’ve already seen Valak’s face - making any face reveal completely underwhelming, leaving “The Nun” lacking audience anticipation for the characters reveal, as everyone already knew exactly what to expect.
2. The story makes no sense
The entire point of “The Nun” is to explain the origin story of “The Conjuring II’s” famous villain - but when they did… I audibly laughed at how ridiculous the story was. *The Nun Spoilers* First let me point out that it was 60 minutes (into the 90 minute film) before they even mentioned Valak. And that the first 60 minutes was comprised of a farmer flirting with a nun, a Priest explaining an exorcism he did years before (THAT ADDS NOTHING TO THE STORY) and a whooooole lot of walking through empty hallways and shouting “hello?’. But, once you get past that - they FINALLY explain Valaks backstory, and this is basically the gist.
Long ago a deranged Duke of Romania summoned a demon from his castle (now the Abbey) but just before the demon could cross through the portal from Hell - The Knights Templar (yep, just like in National Treasure) strolled into the castle with the last remaining drops of Jesus Christ’s blood. Yes. JESUS CHRIST’S BLOOD. Which they just… happened have for some reason. They kill the Duke, and the Demon (Valak) slithers back down to Hell having been defeated. But now (in 1952 when “The Nun” takes place) the portal has cracked and reopened due to “The evil of WWII”... I’m not even kidding, they pin the entire event of Valak being released into the Abbey from Hell, on World War II.
Soooo…. This is Hitler’s fault?
Now, in order to defeat Valak, Sister Irene, Father Burke, and Frenchie (the farmer that keeps flirting with Sister Irene) have to send Valak back to hell, but the only way to do that is to find Jesus Christ’s vile of blood-because apparently it’s still hidden in somewhere in the Abbey. I know... pathetic.
3. None of the characters (including The Nun) do anything
In the end, my biggest problem with the film was the lack of usefulness to the conjuring universe… as it doesn’t add anything to the overall story. What’s the point of introducing new characters if you’ll never actually get to know them or see them again? We have to have a reason to care about the characters, who were really only given maybe one scene to establish who they are. Irene is a nun who has yet to take her vows, and is plagued by strange visions… but why has she yet to take her vows? Is she unsure of her faith? I don’t know, the movie doesn’t tell us! And Burke is a priest who specializes in the supernatural, haunted by a case from his past, where an attempted exorcism killed a young boy… but that backstory is all pretty much established so a demon kid can show up and scare him, but Burke never comes to any new understanding in the movie - or anything to show growth over the story. There are NO character arcs whatsoever. Leaving us with no reason to care about the characters. Instead, they seem to fill any dead air leading to cheap jumpscares. Take for example, when Irene randomly waltzes into a room with a giant mirror in it… so obviously Valak can show up behind her in the mirror and let out a banshee scream. It’s no surprise when the nun actually pops up because we always know that’s what EVERY scene is leading up to. Valak also isn’t that important… because she’s never really presented as a threat. Sure, she stands in doorways and acts ominous, maybe letting out a hiss at our characters - but then what? She just leaves… doesn’t kill them or anything. So after the 50th time she’s shown up and there are no consequences… she’s not all that scary anymore.
I’ll wrap this up by saying that technically… the movie is well produced, and the scares are precisely executed… so if a bunch of pretty effective jump scares is all you’re looking for - maybe “The Nun” is for you. But I like to actually have some characters in my horror movies - which we don’t get the luxury of here, because the movie really is mostly jump scares, the plots introduced are consistently inconsequential - so there isn’t a lot to discuss when it comes to the story of the movie. “Irene and Burke show up at the Abbey and The Nun messes with them, then they defeat her… but not really - because she shows up in ‘The Conjuring II’ later... the end”
All things considered… I give “The Nun” two out of five stars.
Thanks for reading - catch you on the flippity flip.