Directed by: Corin Hardy
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu
Runtime: 96 min
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest (Demián Bichir) with a haunted past and a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows, are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order's unholy secret.
Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in The Conjuring 2, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.
2018 is being a year of extremes for horror movies. A Quiet Place and Hereditary are both original and incredibly suspenseful, while Slender Man is probably the worst film I've seen so far. The Conjuring Universe is a surprisingly entertaining horror franchise that no one really expected it to be hugely successful. I love The Conjuring series and the second Annabelle movie is also pretty great, so my expectations for The Nun were, at least, hopeful.
Unfortunately, The Nun not only proves that its marketing was false and misleading, but it is also such a tedious, lazy and generic horror flick. I didn't watch a single trailer, I only caught a few clips here and there. However, I couldn't escape the constant polemic news about how "too scary" this film was. Trailers being banned on particular countries and theaters forbidding the release of the movie ... Honestly, that has to be all fake.
Fear is subjective. Every person has different fears so it is understandable that some people can get scared by something easier than others. Nevertheless, I don't understand how people can get genuinely scared by an obvious jump scare and a shaky close-up of a demon's face ... Repeatedly. Basically, this is The Nun. Every scare is based on a cliche fake-out of where Valak might be so he can appear somewhere else or through "on-the-nose" foreshadowing.
I can barely find an original or creative scene. Everything in this film is inspired by other movies that did the stunt better. The Nun fails on what it promised the most: being scary. On top of this, the story is another major problem. Every piece of information is given through a lazy exposition scene accompanied by some flashbacks and these moments are oddly fast. Literally, in one minute, everything the audience needs to remember about Valak is explicitly said by a random character. The same thing happens when it comes to developing Father Burke's (Demián Bichir) past or even when the film tries to connect with the others.
In addition to the dull screenplay, Gary Dauberman gives close to zero characterization to the main characters. They are all horror stereotypes, so expect people making stupid decisions or following silly trails. Logic is not a strong attribute of this movie since the presence of some characters in certain places remains unjustified at this moment. With such a short runtime, it is baffling how little effort went to the script. This spinoff could have been a great popcorn film, but instead, it is just a mess.
There are a few saving graces. The cast is really great, and Taissa Farmiga (Sister Irene) completely carries the movie. If something captivated me during these 90 minutes, it was Farmiga's brilliant performance. Her character is the only one that actually receives some good development with it coming from various sources, instead of another exposition rant. However, I'm perplexed at the choice of Vera Farmiga's sister to portray Sister Irene. Since the characters they both portray aren't related, it is at least doubtful how two unrelated persons can be almost identical. Definitely, a nit-picky thing from my part but I couldn't help to find it a bit confusing.
Demián Bichir is excellent as the priest, but his character is ultimately flat. The biggest surprise is Jonas Bloquet as Frenchie since he portrays the comic relief character. Yes, you read it right: The Nun has funny moments. For a lot of people, it might be an issue since they want to see a horror film, not a comedy. However, Bloquet's script is just funny enough and I never felt that there was an exaggeration of one-liners. I consider it a breath of fresh air in an otherwise weighty horror tone.
Corin Hardy undoubtedly struggled to be imaginative, but technically his movie is pretty okay. Some cool set designs, a touch of good cinematography here and there, and a chilling score that, unfortunately, falls into the cliche of announcing an eventual jump scare. He is able to provide a consistent tone with an occasional joke, but he couldn't handle the story the way he should have, so the pacing ends up suffering a punch, even for such a short runtime.
All in all, The Nun is just forgettable. It is just another horror flick that follows every generic plot point, it is filled with cliche characters, and it possesses uninspired not-that-scary sequences that other films did way better. Corin Hardy lacks the mindset to direct a successful horror movie, and the screenplay is evidence number one since it is an explicitly lazy exposition party. In the end, the cast saves the day with Farmiga delivering a fantastic performance, plus some technical attributes worthy of some merit, which help the film to perform not as bad as it would.