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Movie Review: “The Nun”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

The Nun

Theatrical Release: 9/7/2018

Theatrical Release: 9/7/2018

Synopsis

When the Vatican learns of the peculiar suicide of a nun in an abbey in Romania, they task Father Burke (Demián Bichir) with determining whether or not the abbey is still a holy place. Father Burke has specialized in investigating cases such as this, and he is paired with a young nun in training, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who is known to for her psychic visions. The two travel to Romania to meet up with a charismatic, young farmer named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet). Frenchie regularly travels to the abbey to deliver produce, and he was even the one who discovered the body of the nun who committed suicide.

Father Burke expects this to be an easy investigation. Speak to the nuns, determine it is a holy place, and report his findings to the Vatican. They quickly learn, however, that there is a dark evil within the walls of the abbey. A dark presence has taken the form of a nun to get close to those within the abbey, and it is extremely powerful, and malicious. Father Burke and Sister Irene must find a way to banish this evil before it can possess someone, after which it would be able to leave the confines of the abbey and bring its evil upon the rest of the world.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Nun & The Scares (+6pts)

The Setup (-4pts)

The Cast (+5pts)

Close Calls (-5pts)

The Abbey & The Reveal (+5pts)

The History (-4pts)

movie-review-the-nun

Pro: The Nun & The Scares (+6pts)

The Nun was a great concept for a horror monster. It came across as very powerful, very mysterious, and very unpredictable. In an abbey full of nuns, the monster was able to blend in, but it was truly terrifying when one saw its glowing eyes and horrific teeth. It was a very creepy monster, and it always felt like it could be lurking around any creepy corner of this abbey. The Nun was very effective as a horror-film monster and it provided a lot of successful jump scares.

This movie gave jump scare, after jump scare, after jump scare. This can be a negative for a lot of movies, but the anticipation of those jump scares provided a lot of suspense for this movie. Some scares will come out of nowhere, while others will be predictable to a lot of audience members, but the scares work whether you see them coming or not. I would even go as far as to say that some of the movie’s best moments were when audiences got to sit in anticipation, knowing that something was about to happen. Jump scares can be a lazy horror movie tactic, and while that was still the case here, the filmmakers of this movie at least made sure to deliver effective jump scares, which is something that cannot always be said when jump scares are used.

movie-review-the-nun

Con: The Setup (-4pts)

As is typical for too many horror movies, it felt like The Nun took a little too long to find its groove. We first saw Father Burke meeting with his superiors in the Vatican. Then we saw Sister Irene teaching a class full of kids. We saw the two characters meet, travel to Romania, meet up with Frenchie, and begin traveling to the abbey.

This was where the story really started, and this was where I thought the filmmakers should have began their movie. Instead we got unnecessary setup that was dragged out longer than it needed to be. We got generic intros to the main characters, and we did not really learn anything about them that we would not have known if the filmmakers just dropped us into the story with the two main characters traveling to the abbey with Frenchie. It makes me wonder if the filmmakers did start the story there, then realized their story was too short, so they just added a bunch of unnecessary stuff to the beginning.

movie-review-the-nun

Pro: The Cast (+5pts)

The main cast of The Nun was pretty strong. Taissa Farmiga carried the story as the protagonist, and she did so in a way that fit in well with The Conjuring franchise. Being the little sister of Vera Farmiga, who played Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, it was hard not to draw comparisons between the two actresses and their characters. With that being said, Taissa Farmiga did not stay in her big sister’s shadow, as I thought she did a great job of carrying this movie on her own talent.

Demián Bichir played Father Burke who was a character that I was pretty interested in. He worked as a supernatural investigator for the Vatican, and he has seen his share of action, as well as his share of loss. It was an interesting character that I enjoyed seeing explored, but there was a third protagonist in this story. Jonas Bloquet played Frenchie, the one character who did not work for the church. This made him a relatable character in a lot of ways, but it was the character's subtle comedy that made him a favorite of mine. He did not make ”jokes” or deliver all too cheesy lines, but his reactions and responses to things had me laughing regularly. He was a fun and likable, comedic character that I thought served this movie well.

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Con: Close Calls (-5pts)

While I liked the scares, this movie was trapped by having too few protagonists. There was a monster hunting our protagonists, but there were only three potential victims. How did the filmmakers fill the movie with scares without killing any characters? They did what too many horror movies do, as they delivered close call, after close call, after close call.

While the scenes were still intense, audiences like myself will quickly stop believing that any character is in any sort of danger before the story’s climax. There is nothing like seeing the monster corner a main character, get a hold of them, roar in their face, then just let go, allowing them to run away unharmed. It was even worse when the trailer showed one of those scenes. Sure, the scenes will still startle audiences, but unfortunately the repeated close calls will feel redundant, and they more importantly felt like lazy writing.

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Pro: The Abbey & The Reveal (+5pts)

The abbey was an entertaining setting for a horror movie such as this. It was a secluded, castle-like structure that housed a bunch of nuns, and a demon. The abbey was made to be as creepy as possible, with dark, foggy tunnels, a haunted graveyard, crosses around the abbey that were meant to keep evil in, and a gate that closed every night after a certain hour—if you were inside when it closed, you could not leave until morning. Then there was a reveal that happened at the climax of the story that involved the nuns. I do not want to get into the specifics to avoid spoilers, but it was a reveal that I did not see coming, and it provided an extra layer to this movie. The abbey, and the nuns within its walls, provided a perfect setting for this movie and I really enjoyed seeing it explored.

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Con: The History (-4pts)

This is another issue that too many horror movies suffer from. Horror filmmakers seem to get this crazy idea that by creating and explaining a complex origin for their monster, it will make audiences more interested in that monster. Instead, what usually happens is that the origin ends up shedding a light on the monster in the dark, removing all mystery from it. Unfortunately, that was what happened here.

Why do we need to know the evil monster's name? Why do we need to know where the evil monster came from? Why is it not good enough to simply know that it is dangerous, and it is killing people? When a horror movie is primarily filled with cheap jump scares, albeit intense jump scares, but has a complex origin of the evil monster, I cannot help but think that the writers lost sight of what was more important. To make things worse, the origin felt very generic, so I am not quite sure why the filmmakers chose to focus on that in the first place.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-the-nun

Grade: C+ (78pts)

One of the most highly anticipated horror films of 2018, The Nun ended up failing to live up to the hype. Do not get me wrong, it was an okay movie, but it certainly had its problems. The movie took way too long to get going, and it fell into the same issues that too many horror films fall into. While the jump scares were certainly effective, the monstrous Nun repeatedly caught characters only to just let them go and let them escape, which was a result of having too few protagonists. These moments were clearly meant to feel like narrow escapes, but the repeated close calls made the monster seem less dangerous, while reeking of lazy writing.

The next issue was that the filmmakers tried to deliver a complex origin that included a method to stop the demon, but instead it just made the monster less interesting. Fortunately, this movie provided a ton of scenes that will have audiences glued to the screen, with effective jump scares that will startle the audience after letting them sit in intense anticipation. The main cast was another strength, not because any actor gave an Oscar worthy performance, but because each character was interesting in their own way, and because each actor played their part well. The movie had its strengths and it had its weaknesses, but I thought it was an okay horror movie.