The Nun

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 7, 2018

'The Nun'
'The Nun'  

If there's one thing to give "The Nun" credit for, it's that this laughably non-scary horror film achieves an atmosphere worth admiring. From sweeping bird's eye views of a sinister monastery to lanterns cutting through the fog of a moonlit graveyard riddled with wooden crosses, the film's haunting production design and art direction feel like strangers to a work that is otherwise ghastly (in all the wrong ways).

Filled with wooden acting, uninteresting direction and an overwhelming absence of genuine horror, "The Nun" is the worst entry in "The Conjuring" film franchise to date. Whereas 2014's "Annabelle" and 2017's "Annabelle: Creation" were spinoffs of the haunted doll profiled in the first 'Conjuring' film, "The Nun" tells the origin story of "Demon Nun" Valak from "The Conjuring 2."

Why should we care? Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with spooks and chills, the "Conjuring Universe," if you will, has overstayed its welcome. It reaches its lowest point with "The Nun," a lazy and ineffective work that is bizarrely campy at its best and laboriously lame at its worst. Relaying the story of a priest (Demian Bichir) and nun (Taissa Farmiga, sister of 'Conjuring' star Vera Farmiga) who visit a demonic convent in Romania to investigate a nun's suspicious suicide, "The Nun" is a blatant cash grab that stretches out a spooky character to strenuous level of tedium.

Missing most from the film are actual scares. "The Nun" instead chooses to fall on one single familiar trope, which is characters following things - a sound, an apparition, a moving inanimate object - until all goes quiet and the jump scare is produced with eye-rolling effect.

Every scare mechanism in the film has been utilized to death in horror movies of decades' past, and yet "The Nun" feels content simply recycling these clichťs without any sense of reinvention. The movie could essentially be called "People Following Shit Into the Dark," because this is literally how every scene plays out. When all goes silent and the scares do happen, they often resonate with the headache-inducing cacophony of a "Transformers" film. The amount of demonic shrieking in this film isn't frightening, it's downright annoying, and the filmmakers should be obligated to include a sample size of Advil with each ticket purchase.

Perhaps the film's most objectionable offense, however, is its ending - a force-fed, bullshit tie-in to the first 'Conjuring' film that is blatantly re-edited to make dumber members of the audience go, "Oh, wow, it all came full circle." But this isn't the "Insidious" franchise, a far more frightening quartet of films that actually do produce a cyclical effect in their narrative. This is just a major studio trying to build something that has already begun crumbling at the foundation. The scariest thing about "The Nun" is that its creative team actually considered this something worthwhile.


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