Review: 'The Nun', A Forgettable Chapter In An Otherwise Strong Universe

The Nun, the newest chapter in the Conjuring series, is set in 1950’s Romania. Chronologically, it is the earliest film in the Conjuring universe, taking place a couple years earlier than the bulk of the events that occur in Annabelle: Creation. The film centers around a Monastery located deep within the woods outside of a remote Romanian town that the local’s fear is cursed. When a townsman named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) stumbles upon the body of a nun who had hung herself outside of the Monastery, word quickly spreads to the Vatican. The church decides to send Father Burke (Demián Bichir) to investigate and see if the Abbey is still holy. The church also wants Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a young woman who is training to become a nun, to accompany Father Burke. Sister Irene has had visions in her childhood of a nun that the church believes may be directly linked to the Abbey and can help Father Burke in his investigation. Father Burke and Sister Irene travel to Romania and enlist Frenchie to take them to the Abbey. When they arrive, they find that the body of the nun that Frenchie found has moved and is now placed in a different position. Upon examining the body, Father Burke finds that she is clutching an old key that he keeps, thinking it may come in handy. As they begin their investigation, it quickly becomes clear the that there is indeed an evil presence throughout the Abbey. This evil presence reveals itself to be Valak, the demonic nun that was introduced to the series in The Conjuring 2. Valak begins to torment Father Burke and Sister Irene and they vow to do whatever they can to try and destroy it.

The Nun features multiple nods to former films in the franchise. These are more of a bonus to those of us who have seen the other films and in no way would detract from viewers who are taking their first plunge into the Conjuring universe. The Nun has its moments, and it is a decently entertaining film, but the scares are overly lacking. There are only so many times you can enjoy watching a character see a shadow or creepy possible apparition walking away from them and decide absentmindedly that it would be in their best interest to follow it. I know this is common in horror movies, but it seems played out and by the second or third time this exact situation arises in The Nun, I was ready to see something else. The lack of scares aside, the most disappointing part of the film was the fact that it's peak suspenseful moment was ruined by the trailers that have been in rotation for weeks. The Nun does have a good balance of comedy and horror with Frenchie primarily serving as a source of comic relief. I would personally trade in some of the humor for a greater dose of memorable scares, but that is not the direction that the film takes.

The creative team behind The Nun features Corin Hardy directing with Gary Dauberman penning the screenplay based off of James Wan's story. Dauberman and Wan have extensive knowledge of the Conjuring universe with Dauberman writing Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation and Wan writing the Conjuring 2 and directing both Conjuring films. The Nun on the other hand seems different than its predecessors. The Conjuring and Annabelle films felt more creative, like they somehow tried more. The Nun came off a bit lazy in that regard, as if the success of the Conjuring universe would be enough to propel it. This was evident throughout, especially when instances arise where future scares become so obvious that everyone in the theater can see them coming a mile away. After Annabelle: Creation, what I thought was an incredibly successful installment in the series, I was very much looking forward to The Nun and the film ultimately fell very short of my expectations. It is by far the weakest chapter in the Conjuring universe, but I have no doubt that future installments will be able to rise to the level of earlier films in the series.

Rating: 2 out of 5