You can’t imagine how much I enjoy watching and writing about horror movies, and if you have followed this blog for a while now, you know how big of a fan of the Conjuring universe I am. And when I heard that they were making a movie about the scary ‘will-haunt-you-in-your-dreams’ nun from the Conjuring 2, I was over the moon. What could possibly go wrong? The protagonist is scary, the setting is creepy, it’s different, and, lastly, it’s not the typical story of a family where one member gets possessed by a demon and Ed and Lorraine Warren have to intervene. No, this is new. And seriously, what could go wrong?
The Nun starts out the creepiest way possible – straight from the shoulder. A young nun takes her own life to escape the horrible events at the Carta Monastery in Romania. Moments before jumping and hanging herself, we see the nun (aka Valak) come closer and closer to her accompanied by pure evil and the most disgusting music in the world that gives you immediate goosebumps. When the Vatican learns about the suicide, they send Father Burke and Sister Irene to investigate what actually happened because, why would a nun take her own life when suicide is considered a sin?
Father Burke and Sister Irene meet with Frenchie who found the body of the late nun and who helps them investigate the case at the monastery. Throughout their investigation they experience bizarre things from shadows following them to dead people rining the bells from their graves. And as the icing on the cake, one of them sees dead people, too.
What could go wrong with this movie? In theory, absolutely nothing – the idea is perfect. In practice, almost everything apart from that first scene went wrong. First and foremost, the movie overdoes the jump scares. I had no idea that was possible until I saw The Nun. It’s not because there is any tension before the jump scares. No, they are there to make sure the audience doesn’t fall asleep. Secondly, the plot is confusing. There’s something with death, something about Jesus’s blood at the end, and the demon Valak’s origin has something to do with it, but everything seems extremely weak and a bit too much for a 1h36m movie.
The scary scenes such as the ones where Father Burke is being haunted at the graveyard are exhaustingly long, and the huge volume of jump scares every few seconds make is less scary. The faces of the demons/ghosts haunting him are zoomed in and you can’t help cringe. I know some people may disagree, but for me, really scary scenes should leave 80% to the imagination, which is why one of the final scenes where Valak’s face is zoomed in and when Valak talks to Father Burke and Sister Irene have the opposite effect. It becomes lame and everything but scary. I love the unknown, which is why Valak was 100 times creepier in Conjuring 2 where we only see bits of her from time to time. There are parts of the movie where you kind of see Valak but you are not sure and that’s what we needed more of. There are moments where a nun is overlooking the protagonists but when one of them looks back, she disappears. Those elements are a huge plus but, sadly, they are not used very often.
Contrary to popular belief, I love Frenchie’s character who brings some comedic elements to the movie. I know people don’t like it but I find it refreshing (it speaks volumes of a ‘horror movie’ when you think the comedy is one of the best parts). The set decoration is perfect because it was the exact amount of creepy (I mean, the movie is set in Romania – it’s Dracula’s country!). Lastly, as the true icing on the cake, I love the Conjuring cross-over, which is almost mandatory and it somehow saves the movie for me.
I know how anticipated The Nun was but it is really not all that. It doesn’t come close to the original Conjuring movies or the last Annabelle movie, which was truly demonic. It is a different movie but, sadly, in a negative way. I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t watch it because, believe me, I’ve seen MANY horror movies and 95% are worse than The Nun, just don’t expect to get too scared. If you’ve already familiar the Conjuring series, then definitely see it just for that reason.
Fun fact I recently learned at Warner Bros.: In between takes, Bonnie Aarons who plays Valak, would go to different sets in her Valak costume and makeup and scare actors and staff members at the studio facilities.