Starring Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Directed by Corin Hardy
When director Corin Hardy (The Halllow) was announced to be at the helm of this latest film in The Conjuring Universe, The Nun, I was elated. Hardy knows how to do scary; and Bonnie Aarons’ horrific character, which first appeared in The Conjuring 2, was screaming for her own ghastly tale to be filled with things going bump in the night.
So, does The Nun‘s first official solo outing deliver? Yes and no.
Taking place in the Fifties, we’re introduced to a perfectly Gothic setting that for all intents and purposes screams with the atmosphere of vintage Universal horror… an abbey filled with Romanian nuns who are holding something truly evil at bay. Their only problem? Malevolence has a habit of trumping good, and through a series of bloody events we’re introduced to our trio of heroes: Frenchie (Bloquet), Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), and Father Burke (Bichir). The latter two are sent to investigate the recent suicide of a sister and upon their arrival are greeted with all manner of spooks and demons ranging from reanimated corpses to The Nun herself.
Here’s where things go off the rails a bit. Despite having a title character that is one of the most frightening visages to grace the screen in years, the film is never as scary as the actual look of The Nun. In fact, there’s more of an emphasis on humor than actual terror. There are many good set pieces and ideas in this flick, especially the ringing bell/buried alive gag, but they’re sandwiched between moments that are nothing short of… well… goofy. The goofiness reaches new heights, too, during a climax that’s home to a “finishing move” performed on the embodiment of evil that would have aging grapplers Abdullah the Butcher and The Great Muta cheering and cackling out loud.
If The Nun is anything at all, it’s just plain horror movie fun that’s perfect for a date night or a night out with friends in the market for some spookery. That’s all fine, well, and good; but at the end of the day The Nun will find herself living neatly between the wretched original Annabelle flick and the stellar Annabelle: Creation in terms of quality. Looking to experience the promised darkest and spookiest chapter in The Conjuring universe? Sadly, your prayers have certainly not been answered here. Maybe The Crooked Man will fare a bit better, but for my money? The Nun deserved better.