Watching A NUN’S CURSE made me realize what some of my favorite scary movies have in common: a place or object with a sinister history. In Session 9, we have a vacant insane asylum where lobotomies were performed along with patients involved with the satanic craze from the eighties. Oculus has two siblings who interpretations of their childhood trauma differ but still involve the possibility of a cursed mirror that seems to bring brutal deaths to those who own it. Candyman utilizes real-life Cabrini Green in Chicago where residents blame a mythical man with a hook for a hand to explain all the gang-related murders in the community. Stories are passed down and documented, allowing these places or things to be the stuff of legends. They demand to be told so as to let the listener decide if it’s fact or fiction.
A NUN’S CURSE tells of a group of young adults heading out for a weekend of fun. Ashley-Kae (Erika Edwards) tags along as a parental favor much to the annoyance of older sister, Gabby (Kristi Ray). Gabby has brought along her boyfriend, Anthony (Damien Maffei, The Strangers: Prey at Night, Haunt) and friend, Michael (Gunner Willis). Ashley-Kae instantly is the film’s favorite as she uses this trip to photograph local landmarks where burned churches now sit. She explains her fascination to the cast as the history involves a mysterious fire where a nun, Sister Monday (Felissa Rose, Sleepaway Camp, Victor Crowley) found herself assigned to jail afterwards. Rumors went rampant that some of the inmates’ deaths might not have been suicides, but actually died at the hands of the nun herself. Before anything could be pursued, she disappeared, but Ashley-Kae believes she might still be hanging around, looking for sinners.
Ashley-Kae is our winner for being a lover of all things dark as well as being the only person with logic, but there is usually one in these scenarios, right? Edwards stands against some genre favorites, but she holds her own with a strong and natural presence. She delivers and we want to hear more. This is actually where A NUN’S CURSE stumbles as the second half of the rather short film focuses less on her and more on the scares and kills.
With that being said, it’s safe to say that some of these scares actually work. I might have even jumped a couple of times. The real terror comes from Edwards being a great storyteller, allowing the suspense to build up. After the keys go missing for their car, the group has no choice but to stay in the now-abandoned jail that is still littered with artifacts from its shady past.
Writer/Director Tommy Faircloth (Dollface, Family Possessions) knows his way around a camera. We have a low budget film where the director is aware where every dollar should go. Most of the film takes place in the jail and Faircloth sets up his shots in a way that asks its audience to lean in while still being scared of what might jump out. Silhouettes of the nun in darkened doorways are where it’s at. It’s questionable if some of the toilet humor (literally) fits in some of the sequences, but the more positive attributes make up for it.
Damien Maffei is usually hidden behind prosthetics or a mask as he makes a name for himself as the go-to for creating iconic killers. That made it all the more refreshing to see him playing a horny jock type who won’t hesitate to whip it out. He’s having fun and I’m hoping that in future films, we get to see more of his face in front of the camera rather than behind a sack.
Felissa Rose gets to play it more dramatic than usual as Sister Monday really is an evil entity. Known as the quiet Angela in Sleepaway Camp, she’s been popping out in several movies, usually in cameos. A NUN’S CURSE allows her to expand her portfolio as another villain, but this time with a serious arc that keeps you walking on eggshells. Honestly, her character is scarier before the demonic makeup as she feels like a real monster some of us may have had to deal with before. Religious zealot are probably the biggest monsters out there.
In all, A NUN’S CURSE has its faults but delivers the scares throughout the 73-minute runtime. With truly creepy lore and great directing, this is one jail cell worth being locked into. A NUN’S CURSE arrives on VOD/DVD May 12, 2020.
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