The Nun is the third movie in the Conjuring universe and is largely being touted as the “darkest chapter” out of all them all by the studio. So does it live up to the hype?
The latest instalment focuses on the origins of Valak, the fantastically creepy demonic nun who was introduced to audiences in Conjuring 2. Valak promptly became a beloved horror figure so it was inevitable that she would get her own movie.
The story begins in 1952 with a Romanian nun hanging herself at the Abbey after coming in contact with an evil entity. As news travels within the Catholic community, the Vatican enlists Father Burke (Demian Bichir) to investigate the cause of the suicide with the assistance of Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga). They enlist the help of a local man named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), to take them to the convent where the incident took place. Father Burke and Sister Irene quickly find themselves on their way to the Abbey and neck deep in supernatural occurrences.
The Nun undeniably has beautiful gothic set pieces and an unrelentingly dark atmosphere which is accompanied by a haunting score by Abel Korzeniowski (Penny Dreadful). Combine that with an already established horror figure such as Valak (played by the delightful Bonnie Aarons), one would think this movie would be great.
Sadly, the positives don’t mean much when the plot is a boring clichéd mess with very little, if any, genuine scares amid minimal build-up of tension and suspense. If you’ve seen the trailers then you’ve already seen the scariest scenes. The story also has a lot of inconsistencies and obvious subplots that lead to nowhere – it gets to a point where you’ll quickly start wondering what was the point of certain scenarios and characters.
Instead of investing in new ideas, the creators chose to heavily recycle scare tactics from the two Conjuring films (also Insidious 1 & 2). It all feels too predictable and cheap as it mostly utilises quick jump scares with very little effect beyond unintentional laughter.
The most astonishing aspect of the plot is the lack of screen time Valak gets, she predominantly appears as a fleeting shadow until the last quarter of the film. At this point, the creators practically turn her into a caricature rather than the iconic creepy demonic nun we all came to love and expect.
Taissa Farmiga was the perfect choice to play Sister Irene as she has a sense of calm innocence to her demeanour and eyes. This came in handy because her character’s range of emotions went from innocent curiosity to pure fright but not much in between. Demian Bicher did the best he could with what he had been given, as well as Jonas Bloquet, who is the only one that got the chance to show a range of emotions beyond frightened. The rest of the support cast are just there, very obviously repeating their lines without any on-screen charisma or authenticity.
The Nun is not the “darkest chapter” but certainly is the most disappointing one in the Conjuring universe. Valak deserved better than this.
The Nun is in cinemas now.