Movie Review: “The Nun”
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 is paired with a young nun in training, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who is known to have psychic abilities that come in the form of visions. The two travel to Romania to meet up with the man who discovered the body. Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) is a charismatic, young farmer who travels to the abbey to deliver produce.
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 that there is a dark evil within the walls of the abbey. There is a gate to hell within the abbey from which the evil came from. It has taken the form of a nun, to get close to those within the abbey, and is extremely powerful. Father Burke and Sister Irene must find a way to banish this evil before it can possees someone and leave the confines of the abbey.
The Pros & Cons
The Nun & The Scares (+8pts)
The Setup (-3pts)
The Cast (+6pts)
Close Calls (-5pts)
The Abbey & The Reveal (+5pts)
The History (-4pts)
Pro: The Nun & The Scares (+8pts)
The Nun was a great concept for a horror monster. It comes across as very powerful, very mysterious, and very unpredictable. In an abbey full of nuns, the monster is able to blend in, but it is truely terrifying when you see its glowing eyes and horrific teeth. It is a very creepy monster and could be lurking around any corner. The Nun was very effective as a horror-film monster and 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 this one is able to relish in the anticipation. 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 knew something was about to happen, but had to sit in anticipation.
Con: The Setup (-3pts)
As is typical for too many horror movies, it felt like The Nun took a little too long to find its groove. We first see Father Burke meeting with his superiors in the Vatican. Then we first see Sister Irene teaching a class full of kids. We see the two characters meet, travel to Romania, meet up with Frenchie, and begin traveling to the abbey.
This is where the story really starts and this is where the film should have started. Instead we get unnecessary setup that is dragged out longer than it needed to be. We get generic intros to the main characters and do not really learn anything about them that we could not have learned throughout the rest of the story. It was a waste of time and cutting the setup down would have created a much more refined story.
Pro: The Cast (+6pts)
The main cast of The Nun was pretty strong. Taissa Farmiga carries the story as the protagonist and she does so in a way that fits The Conjuring franchise. Being the little sister of Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, it is hard not to draw comparisons between the two actresses and their characters. With that being said, Taissa Farmiga does not stay in her big sister’s shadow. She does a great job of pulling the audience into the story through her strong and relatable performance.
Demián Bichir plays Father Burke who was a character that I was pretty interested in. He works as a supernatural investigator for the Vatican. He has seen his share of action and has seen his share of loss. It was fun to explore these things, but I have to mention the comedic relief. Jonas Bloquet plays Frenchie, the one character who does not work for the church. This makes him a relatable character in a lot of ways, but it is his subtle comedy that makes him a fan favorite. He does not make ”jokes” or deliver all too cheesy lines, but it is his reactions and responses that will have audiences laughing along. He is a fun, likable, comedic character that serves this movie well.
Con: Close Calls (-5pts)
While I liked the scares, this movie was trapped by having too few protagonists. There is a monster hunting our protagonists, but there are only three potential victims. How do the filmmakers fill the movie with scares? They do what too many horror movies do and deliver close call, after close call, after close call.
While the scenes are still intense, the audience quickly stops 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 and let them run away unharmed. It is even worse when the trailer shows one of those scenes. Sure, the scenes startle the audience, but unfortunately the repeated close calls felt redundant and more importantly felt like lazy writing.
Pro: The Abbey & The Reveal (+5pts)
The abbey was an entertaining setting for a horror movie such as this. It is a secluded, castle-like structure that houses a bunch of nuns...and a demon. The abbey is made to be as creepy as possible with dark foggy tunnels, a haunted graveyard, crosses around the abbey that are meant to keep evil in, and a gate that closes every night after a certain hour (if you are inside when it closes, you cannot leave until morning). Then there is a reveal that happens at the climax of the story that involves 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 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.
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 the monster, they will get more audience interest in that monster. Instead, what happens is the origin ends up shedding a light on the monster in the dark. In otherwords, the mystery is gone.
Why do we need to know the evil’s name? Why do we need to know where the evil came from? 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.
Grade: B- (82pts)
One of the most highly anticipated horror films of 2018, The Nun ends up failing to live up to the hype. Do not get me wrong, it is a decent movie, but it certainly has its problems. The movie takes too long to get going, and it falls into the same issues that too many horror films fall into. While the jump scares were certainly effective, The Nun repeatedly catches someone only to just let them go and let them escape. It is meant to feel like a narrow escape, but the repeated close calls make 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 Nun less interesting.
Fortunately, the movie does have some strengths. By this film, the filmmakers have mastered the jump scares. This movie provides a ton of scenes that will have audiences glued to the screen and will startle them effectively. 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. The abbey was such a creepy location and I really enjoyed seeing around every corner. It has its strengths and has its weaknesses, but I found it to be a decent horror movie.