The Nun, a prequel to the Conjuring series of films, is about a priest who, with the aid of a young nun, visit a castle to battle the evil that lurks within. The duo, along with a guide, find terror lurking inside and they must confront a demon that typically takes the form of an evil Nun. Now when I say terror, this is based on the intention behind this film because in actuality this is the least scary film I have seen in a while. It also has bland characters a dull plot and drags so much you could see marks on the film reel (unless it was filmed digitally, which I’m sure it was).
Horror films should be scary right? I mean that is the idea when a studio wants to create a movie about a demonic nun attacking religious figures. Well they missed the mark with The Nun, a film where most of the scares are unimpressive, predictable or right out of an episode of Scooby-Doo. Heavily reliant on jump scares where the set-up is painfully obvious, with one notable and well-crafted exception toward the end, this film does not provide anything that would surprise someone who has seen at least one horror film in their life. When The Nun is not trying to jump scare the audience it has characters see something walking in the distance that quickly disappear or they notice someone peeking in on them through a window.
The film is going for the atmosphere of a gothic horror, but there is nothing scary or mysterious about the castle that The Nun is set in. In any story in that vein the building itself should be a character – perplexing and filled with a dark history. The problem is that the castle and the Nun almost feel disconnected, whereas the villain’s evil presence should have an effect on the locale. When the creature is off-screen the setting is a generic medieval castle with no elements that make it frightening.
The titular demonic entity is pretty underwhelming. The design of the Nun demon and her portrayal in the movie comes off as goofy instead of frightening. In terms of abilities and characteristics the Nun is like Pennywise if Stephen King didn’t give that demon a sense of humour. An evil creature from the depths of hell that is like a hundred other demon stories because the writers fail to give it any distinctive traits, such as Pennywise’s aforementioned sense of humour. Not to say that this movie has no sense of humour, with the most enjoyable parts of The Nun being the comic relief character played by Jonas Bloquet, He has some genuinely funny scenes that were the only moments of joy I found in this horrible movie. While that is a positive aspect of The Nun, the best parts of a horror film shouldn’t be the one-liners – especially considering how The Nun was marketed.
The film seems to rely quite a bit on the castle and the characters because the demon appears sparingly throughout the first hour. This leads to a very dull film that unnecessarily takes its time to build up the main threat to the protagonists and explore their poorly defined backstory. When characters are left alone to talk without anything supernatural occurring around them it is blatantly obvious how little thought was put into creating the cast of this movie. And because they are not engaging characters, the story becomes very dull when they are left to their own devices. Nothing remotely interesting happens until the third act because of this, which makes the hour and a half movie feel like it is going on forever. Every time they teased the Nun entity I just wanted her to murder the cast so I could go home and watch a good horror movie.
All of the characters are two-dimensional with little to no personality or character arcs – all of which offers little for the actors to work with. As for their performances I enjoyed Jonas Bloquet and Taissa Farmiga to an extent. Bloquet brought the charm and swagger his character required which brought, as previously mentioned, the only moments of joy in this disaster of a movie. Father Burke was pretty generic with an even more generic dark past. There is only so much an actor can do with a character description that must have read: “grumpy middle-aged priest”. Farmiga’s performance was fine but hampered by how uninteresting her character is due to lazy writing. You wasted her writers. Shame on you. Majority of the characters are archetypes with little to no personality or character arcs – though that’s not entirely true.
With nothing to new to offer, The Nun is a horror film that does not frighten or even entertain. There are moments when you will laugh but ultimately, they are a painful reminder about how the filmmakers have failed to produce a movie that can’t frighten anyone above the age of fourteen. It is just so bad. So very bad.