The Nun: Brings subtle horror to The Conjuring universe

Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene and Bonnie Aarons as Valak/The Nun

Valak is working overtime as she arrives in the spin-off and 5th installment in the Conjuring-Annabelle Universe, The Nun.

The film opens with two nuns in a cloistered abbey in Romania who attempt to retrieve an ancient Christian relic to stop a malevolent force. While one is killed, the other sacrifices her own life so that this malevolent spirit cannot possess her.

The Vatican is notified and recruits Father Burke who then recruits novitiate Sister Irene to travel to Romania where they meet Frenchie, a villager who transports various supplies to the nuns at St. Carta and discovered the nun that hung herself. Together they set upon finding out what happened and how.

Let’s move on to what worked, what did not work, and what would have worked for this film. What worked was the score by Abel Korzeniowski. It was effective, thrilling and reminiscent of The Exorcist. The set design was hellish, menacing and stylized, driving home what resides in this abbey is truly unholy. Could have sworn I heard hissing beetles and wails mixed into certain aspects of the score for intensity, or I could have been working myself up into being thrilled and scared.

What did not work is the vast storylines that watered down the reason why the miracle hunters were there in the first place. Between Father Burke’s guilt for not being able to save a young boy from an exorcism, his conversations with his informant; the Abbess, to Frenchie’s slightly irrelevant past, and Sister Irene’s discovery of nuns in the abbey (who are actually dead), left me feeling I was watching a very R — Rated version of Goosebumps. Between the typical jump scares, Valak not being super menacing, and the jokey lines left disappointment. Missing are the days of an interactive film crowd where everyone would yell at the screen, “Don’t go in there!” sadly there were more laughs than screams from the audience.

The tie-in between Sister Charlotte in Annabelle Creation during her tenure at the abbey was a major opportunity missed by not including her backstory or just her in the film overall. Could it have been possible to have a sister who did not care to be photographed, actually be the one possessed by Valak? Instead, we saw a demon dressed up like a nun who can walk on water and possess other humans.

Overall the cast gave great performances. Taissa Farmiga embodied Sister Irene (as a holy version of Ripley) while Demian Bichir and Jonas Bloquet delivered as strong men on a mission without too much arrogance and/or chauvinism.

However, I was disappointed with not having the holy shit scared out of me which was what I was hoping for and pretty sure it was what moviegoers wanted. I have not been blessed with sleeping with all the lights on in my apartment since the original Paranormal Activity and the Conjuring respectively.

For the faint at heart looking for an introductory film to get you started with the ConjurVerse then The Nun will give you some laughs, and standard jump scares that will calm your nerves for The Conjuring-Annabelle Universe past and future.

Mary showed us the way to a 5.5 out of 10 rating.