By Contributing Writer, Manh T.
THE NUN is directed by Corin Hardy (THE HALLOW), and stars Taissa Farmiga (sister to Vera Farmiga, AKA Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring films), Demián Bichir and Jonas Bloquet. Set in 1952, THE NUN follows Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they’re sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a young nun in an abbey in Romania. This film marks the fifth entry into James Wan’s Conjuring Universe, a horror cinematic universe that has already grossed over $1.2B worldwide for Warner Bros.
With the latest advert for THE NUN being taken off Youtube because it was deemed “too scary”, and the monstrous estimated opening weekend tracking for the film, my excitement for THE NUN had only grown further and further. I’m sad to report that it’s extremely underwhelming, and arguably one of the weakest installments in the Conjuring Universe (which I hold very dear to my heart).
Let’s start with the positives. Corin Hardy and his DP Maxime Alexandre (THE HILLS HAVE EYES, MIRRORS, ANNABELLE: CREATION) have created a wonderfully gothic world for this film to inhabit. The mise-en-scène is on-point and you really do feel like you’re in this dark and dingy 1950’s monastery in Romania. There are a few shots and scenes in this film that are great to look at visually, as Maxime Alexandre’s aesthetic and style of shooting really accentuates the deep black shadows that lurk within the corners of the monastery. I also really loved the set design – the monastery looked and felt very realistic, I could practically feel the cobwebs and spiders on me.
The demonic entity Valak was another aspect I enjoyed. Ever since it’s first appearance in THE CONJURING 2, Valak’s character design was imprinted into my memory through sheer fear. Valak, for the most part is terrifying in the film but more so when it’s lurking behind people ready to strike, and less so when it’s actually ~striking~.
Onto the negatives. As I mentioned before, Valak is terrifying, but only when it’s lurking around the monastery, because the director knows when to let our imagination run amok. There’s a great shot in the film where a door opens and we see Valak in the shadows with it’s face barely visible, we only see the glowing and haunting eyes which honestly sent chills down my spine. When Valak’s face is actually on-screen (which is for the majority of the final act) the fear factor is instantly removed and you’re left feeling underwhelmed with the demonic entity.
Another downside to THE NUN is the actual plot and backstory. Without spoiling anything, the film takes us further back in time in an attempt to explain the origins of Valak (and other demonic entities), however I just felt that it was too out there and out of touch with reality (yes, I know this is a film revolving around demons and the supernatural). The film also attempts to add some backstory to Father Burke in the form of flashbacks which I found was very awkwardly placed within the film and honestly took me out of the overall film.
THE NUN is (chronologically) the earliest film set within The Conjuring Universe, and although it does add some interesting plot-points in an attempt to build the Conjuring world further, ultimately it doesn’t actually impact the universe in any way.
THE NUN opens on the 7th of September and if you’re a die-hard fan of Wan’s Conjuring Universe then I recommend it. If you’re looking for a cheap and uninspired horror flick then I recommend it, otherwise you shouldn’t go out of your way to see this one.