As a fan of The Conjuring franchise and its spin-offs, I’ve been looking forward to the release of The Nun for quite a while. For the uninitiated, the titular nun is actually the embodiment of a demon named Valak who stands out as one of the most terrifying elements from The Conjuring 2. I don’t really know if it’s necessary to create a backstory for a spooky nun, but these films are relatively inexpensive to make by Hollywood standards and audiences are eager for more so…here we go!
We trace the origins of Valak back to the 1950s. A priest from the Vatican and a novitiate make a trip to an old monastery in Romania to investigate an eerie suicide. They get to the bottom of the mystery with the help of a village yokel affably referred to as “Frenchie.” To say much more would venture into spoiler territory…I’ll say that the story is satisfying enough, but unremarkable.
The Nun is at its best when building mood. The monastery serves as a great backdrop for this movie with a creepy graveyard, long hallways, and moody catacombs. The dark scenery and use of silence to build suspense will probably make you chomp your popcorn at an exceedingly loud volume to help ease discomfort (just ask my wife who I annoyed throughout almost the entirety of the 96 minute runtime). The actual payoffs to the build up? Not as great. But The Nun is certainly effective at developing a sense of dread!
I don’t think The Nun commits too many sins. For whatever reason, characters in horror movies are still stupid enough to split up when investigating clearly dangerous situations. That spooky door that reads, “God Ends Here?” How about when we enter that, each of us go in different directions…what could go wrong? The final encounter is also cheesy and kind of cheapens the menace of Valak.
I won’t bow at the altar of The Nun…in the spectrum of Conjuring/Insidious horror movies that director James Wan has successfully created, I’d put this one near the bottom. The cinematography is done in various shades of pitch black and there’s a lot of build up to scares that under-deliver. But even still, it has some fun moments that make the experience worthwhile. Horror aficionados should check it out as we close in on Halloween!