Director: Corin Hardy
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Spin-offs can work… or not. There are films like Creed and Deadpool, which were better than the originals, and then, of course, there’s the long list of spin-offs that failed, including Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective, Son of the Mask and Evan Almighty. The Nun — not unlike another spinoff in this franchise, Annabelle — is the latest addition to this list.
The Conjuring franchise stood out from run-of-the-mill horror films for its atmosphere, even while having some memorable jump scares, like that ‘clap scene’ in The Conjuring (2013), or the ‘jagged tree stump scene’ in The Conjuring 2 (2016). It helped that the stories too weren’t too bizarre. Unfortunately, none of this is the case with The Nun, a story about novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a disturbed priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a random villager called Maurice ‘Frenchie’ Theriault (Jonas Bloquet), and of course, a lot of nuns.
The Nun relies largely on darkness, gothic elements (the film is mainly set inside a battered abbey), and some ineffective jumpscares. The film fails to close down the distance you have from the characters, even though there are mainly only three of them. The character we connect most to is the villager with a talent for one-liners. The somewhat compelling backstory of Sister Irene isn’t actually shown, and instead, we get the mediocre flashback of Father Burke and an exorcism gone wrong, which conjures up sudden scares for the poor man.
Early scenes of the demon in a nun’s attire, Valak, set the tone for some fright, only for the film to disappoint us with the usual cliches, including flying people, shadows, upside down crosses… Director Colin Hardy, the man behind the hit horror film, The Hallow, brings precious little that’s new to the table. The trio, inexplicably, keep splitting up, and you don’t get why.
Some lines, in fact, are so bad that they seem unintentionally funny. After their first encounter with Valak in which he almost loses his life, Father Burke remarks, “There’s something unholy here.” Well, no sh**, Sherlock.
Save for one scene that shows how The Nun is connected to the universe, there’s almost nothing in the film to justify a spin-off. We’ll just have to hope that at least the other spin-off from this franchise, The Crooked Man, passes muster.
Somewhere at the beginning of the film, one nun asks, “Have we made the right decision by coming here?” I wish I’d asked myself that question then.