A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.
A rousing cold open kicks off The Nun. It’s literally the first 4 minutes so it’s not too much of a spoiler to explain what goes down. In the dead of night, in a remote, castle-like convent deep in Romania, two nuns attempt to confront the unspeakable evil that resides behind a locked door. Things go poorly and, well, the two nuns meet a less than pious fate. It’s a shame then, to have to report that while this appetizer sets the bar at an acceptably disturbing level, the meal ahead is no more substantial.
Our plot kicks in and the Vatican decides to charge Father Burke (Demián Bichir) with collecting the angelic Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who is presiding over a grade school classroom in England and heading off to Romania to investigate. When the two arrive, a dashing French-Canadian transplant named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) agrees to take them to the convent where he discovered the body of one of the nuns at the beginning of the film. Ok, stop. A French-Canadian who is in Romania near a cursed convent?
Little explanation is given as to why this character traveled to the other side of the globe aside from a certain ennui with home. This was the first sign of trouble. The script is rife with these moments.
The three arrive to the convent and the solemn nuns inhabiting the suspicious location take the divine detectives in. Night falls, and holy-hijinks ensue in only the most predictable of ways. Waking in the middle of the night both Sister Irene and Father Burke are lured from their chambers and are confronted with the usual pattern of supernatural scares. The lure, the jump scare, the attack, and scene. The pattern repeats itself and Frenchie decides to get involved, as the attempt to locate and unravel the source of the evil and, of course, The Nun herself.
It should be noted that the film, directed by Corin Hardy, looks great. From a visual standpoint, The Nun is a success. There is an effective use of framing, color, and light that Hardy executes with polish. In fact, our titular specter has some entrances that would make RuPaul jealous. Yet for all of the precision framing, the lush production, this movie is light on visceral terror.
Gary Dauberman’s (It, Annabelle, Annabelle Creation) script plays out in a predictable rhythm and we get to the bottom of the mystery. Yet something is lacking. This is not to say that there aren’t entertaining moments, there are. In fact, the film is far from the bore that Annabelle was. Yet for all of the sacrilege and demonic embodiments, there is nary an effective primal scare to be had.
No matter. The Nun is acceptable, if not terrifying, as another chapter in James Wan’s The Conjuring universe. It will probably see at least the first weekend at number one. Still, though, the sequel to Annabelle was actually great. So, here’s to hoping we see another far more horrifying chapter of this tale later.
The Nun (2018)
Directed by Corin Hardy
Written By: Gary Dauberman, Story by James Wan
Staring: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
6 out of 10 stars