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‘The Nun’ conjures jump scares, but little more

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Aissa Farmiga as Sister Irene walks down haunted hallways in New Line Cinema's horror film "The Nun."

If the cast of Monty Python were to lead a horror film set in a haunted abbey, it would definitely be shorter, more like a holy hand grenade to the demon’s face.

Directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow), The Nun stars Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet and Bonnie Aarons.

Father Burke and Sister Irene are sent by the Vatican to investigate the suicide of a young nun in a desolate abbey in Romania. There an evil, in the form of a demonic nun, is contained and trying to escape to spread its wickedness to the world.

With The Nun, a more fleshed out background is given to the popular antagonist. However, the story takes too long to unfold, which ends up with a shallow dig in the mythology.

The Nun is the fifth installment in the Conjuring universe. Since The Conjuring and Annabelle films hold a special place in my heart as being one of the best horror franchises and revitalizing classic scares, I was naturally excited.

Valak is one of my favorite and one of the creepiest monsters/demons in all of film was being made. Although the resemblance to the actual Valak isn’t a perfect fit, The Conjuring’s interpretation gets the point across: it’s going to haunt you.

In spite of already having the base to make a great horror movie that fits into the mythology of The Conjuring, Hardy decides to try and grasp it being a good movie, but gets lost in making it.

The abbey in Romania, in which they filmed in that real set in the middle of nowhere, sets a powerful and hellish tone. The environment is a plus in my book, letting foggy nature and dark hallways shine bright.

I sure as hell wouldn’t want to get lost in a pitch-black stone maze like that abbey.

On top of setting a great place for the story to take place in, I thoroughly enjoyed most of the scares.

Jump scares galore!

Jump scares only work when it fits into the film like Valak appearing from thin air at the corner of the screen. On the contrary, some scares such as the protagonist turning around to see her friend is a cheap shot, and doesn’t use the scare to its full potential.

For the most part, I was frightened with the tension building in various scene. Sometimes the payoff wasn’t as successful as the build but nevertheless, I was entertained.

This is what The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation and The Nun all do best: classic horror filmmaking with a nail-biting wait to see what happens next. They use similar techniques in framing the cameras to show something emerging from either a distance or at an extreme angle.

These types of film styles cause an uneasiness that audiences, mostly horror fanatics, gravitate toward; it’s the feeling of the impossible in not only the characters and stories but also the way the movie is shot.

I can go on about how, technically, I enjoyed The Nun but when looking at the plot, I’m put to sleep.

The Nun is supposed to be Valak’s deep-dive into The Conjuring’s mythology. While it gives audiences a connection at the end of the movie, the first two-thirds of The Nun is a cliché horror story of some people hearing bumps in the night and only just start to ask questions about what it could be.

I came in with expectations high and felt disappointed with what I ultimately saw. If not for a knowledgeable filmmaker behind the camera, I think The Nun could be tied with Annabelle for being the worst in its demon-filled franchise.

If I were to rate the films in the Conjuring universe as is, I would put the first one on top, then its sequel, followed by Annabelle: Creation, The Nun and then Annabelle.

Valak’s background story, as empty as it is, is a competent horror film to stand in the Conjuring Universe. Unfortunately, it isn’t a strong competitor to out-scare Ed and Lorraine Warren, the protagonists in The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

The Nun

4.2

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