THE NUN is the latest film from director Corin Hardy (The Hallow), written by Gary Dauberman (2017’s IT), and is the latest chapter in the ongoing Conjuring Universe created by horror master, James Wan. The film stars Demián Bichir (Alien: Covenant), Taissa Farmiga (Final Girls, FX’s American Horror Story), Jonas Bloquet (Elle), and Bonnie Aarons (The Conjurng 2).
The Nun, as a figure, has been an ominous presence ever since her first appearance in James Wan’s The Conjuring 2. For me, I instantly became obsessed with her character and desperately wanted to know more. My prayers were answered (so to speak) when it was announced that the Nun would be getting her own spin-off film. For the past year I’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment, not just because I’m a huge fan of the character, but also because I’m a huge fan of the Conjuring Universe as a whole. This past Tuesday, I was lucky enough to attend the World Premiere of THE NUN and though I was overwhelmed with excitement I tried to keep my expectations in check.
Set in Romania in the early 1950’s, the film centers around Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a young woman on the brink of taking her final vows to become a nun, and Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a troubled priest with a past, who have been sent by the Vatican to investigate a cloistered abbey after a nun was found to have committed suicide. With the help of a local Frenchman (Jonas Bloquet), they uncover something much more sinister and unholy at play. With their lives on the line and their faith tested, they must confront a malevolent force, a demonic entity that has taken the form of a Nun, resulting in a battle between the living and the damned. Welcome to the darkest chapter in The Conjuring Universe.
As I mentioned above, I had been anxiously awaiting THE NUN and now that I’ve seen the film twice I have a lot to say on the matter. First and foremost, we must talk about the presentation of the film. THE NUN is hands down the most visually stunning of all the films in the Conjuringfranchise. The majority of the movie takes place inside of a neglected castle in Romania and is absolutely breathtaking. The castle itself is almost a character within the film, as it’s the perfect backdrop to the religious horror that soon unfolds. Along with the castle, the production design was absolutely exquisite and whoever was responsible for the set design deserves a god damn award because it conveyed perfectly the feeling of ominous terror. Religious iconography, especially the uses of crosses, play a major part in the design of the film, and though some of you might think that would bring about comfort, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. Whether it’s the hallways filled from floor to ceiling with crosses, or the barrier of crosses that surround the castle, there is something incredibly unsettling about their placement and meaning. Without a doubt, the atmosphere and the design of the film as a whole, are some of the best aspects of THE NUN. I would urge any and all of you to see this movie on the big screen to really appreciate the amount of time, detail, and visual artistry that went into the making of the film.
Before I continue, I want to bring up the one issue I had with the film which has to do with the writing. I’m a huge fan of Gary Dauberman as he’s written some of my favorite horror films as of recent which include 2017’s IT and Annabelle: Creations. Going into this film I had total trust in Dauberman’s writing but I found, after watching the film, that something was off. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since viewing the movie and I haven’t been able to properly put my finger on it, but for whatever reason, the writing didn’t consistently engage me nor did it flow with the incredible visuals and atmospheric tone that was presented in the film. I would agree that THE NUN is the darkest film in the Conjuring Universe, but I really wish that the powers-that-be had pushed THE NUN to its full capability. I felt as though there were instances of missed opportunities, especially since the film was given an R-rating. I’m not saying that I wanted more cursing or gore to be at the forefront, but what I am saying is that I wanted this film to be as commanding it its “evil” presentation without having to rely on corny jokes and dialogue to appeal to the masses. I think those instances took away from how impactful this film could have really been to not only the Conjuring Universe but to the horror genre in general.
In regards to the acting and directing, it was quite noticeable that Corin Hardy brought along his visual standards from his previous work on The Hallow. I love how he used different techniques to set up the scares and didn’t solely rely on jump scares to set the mood of uneasiness and terror. As for the acting, everyone did wonderful with what they were given, but the shining stars were definitely Bonnie Aarons, who portrayed the Nun, and Jonas Bloquet, who portrays Frenchie. Bonnie Aarons is absolutely terrifying as The Nun and she doesn’t disappoint when her moment to shine comes along. Jonas Bloquet’s character was a mixture of comic relief/hero and even though he had some heavyweights to compete with one screen, he actually ended up stealing the show for me. I also appreciated how much religion played into the film in subtle ways outside of the obvious Catholic practices. One of my favorite scenes has to do with The Nun herself walking on water which is a direct parallel of Jesus walking on water. I’ll be honest, the horror subgenre of religion is my favorite and THE NUN hit a lot of the notes I look for when it comes to that particular subgenre.
Even with some of the writing issues, I still really enjoyed THE NUN. It’s not my favorite in the series but it definitely wasn’t my least favorite, I just wished it leaned more on being darker and more evil. As a massive fan of the Conjuring Universe I loved the little Easter Eggs that were planted throughout, so make sure you look for a certain photograph reminiscent of one that was in Annabelle: Creations, and if you are a fan like I am, then you are going to shriek with delight at the ending and how they tie this film in with the rest of the franchise. All in all, THE NUN is a worthy entry into the Conjuring Universe and is easily the most visually arresting of all the films. A part of me hopes that an Unrated version is released when the home video comes out but even without that there is still a lot to love with this film.
THE NUN opens in theaters September 6th from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures.