When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorised audiences in ‘The Conjuring 2’, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.
Released on September 7 2018, ‘The Nun’ was set to be the most popular horror movie of the year. However, it’s shortcomings in comparison to its predecessors in ‘The Conjuring’ franchise has led to a lot of bad reviews and overall rating scores of 5.7/10 on IMDB and 27% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite reeling in $58,807,379 during it’s opening weekend alone and earning itself the title of the most successful movie in the franchise, ‘The Nun’ has left many movie buffs disappointed by what has been described many a time as the worst installment in the franchise so far.
I saw this film the day it was released with mixed ideas about what to expect. I really enjoyed ‘The Conjuring 2’ but didn’t enjoy ‘The Conjuring’ and hadn’t seen ‘Annabelle’ or ‘Anabelle: Creation’ so I had torn opinions about how ‘The Nun’ was going to perform, but I held out hope. Although there was some plot and character development, the movie overall felt flat to me, like it was missing the James Wan Touch which had been sprinkled throughout the other films in the franchise. I think the main thing to take away here is that this movie is a Marmite movie – you either love it or you hate it.
But let’s start with the positives of the film…
The location where the movie is set, an abbey in Romania, is a beautiful place and kudos must be given to the location scout who found such a place. The abbey itself is wondrous, looming over the village below. Set within the confines of the Abbey of St Carta, the movie was filmed at different locations throughout Gothic Romania and the overall location of the movie is beautiful.
The cast of the movie was very good – Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga and Jonas Bloquet – and they portrayed their characters very well. Although the script-writing and lack of plot development dragged the film down a lot, the acting can’t be faulted as I feel that the cast did a very good job.
Also, I loved how the ending of the film kind of went full circle and linked back to the first Conjuring movie. I thought it was a very clever way to wrap the movie up and I think everyone in the cinema thought the same as me as there was a collective gasp at the moment of realisation – I don’t want to give too much away in case anyone is thinking of watching the movie.
Another thing I would like to note is that the soundtrack of the movie is bone-chillingly beautiful. Composed by Abel Korzeniowski, the instrumentals are perfectly timed and the compositions themselves are haunting. In fact, I actually like to listen to the soundtrack of ‘The Nun’ when I’m studying or writing. In fact, if you haven’t had the chance to listen to the score yet, do it now. I’ll even link it down below for you!
Now, however, we’re going to get onto the negatives of the movie…which there are a lot more of.
I think the main downfall of this movie is that there is virtually no worthwhile plot. I know that might sound rude as I’m not a screenwriter and I don’t know what makes a good script but as an audience member, I think it is fair to say that I didn’t understand why a lot of the movie happened and what it meant.
I know that might sound a bit strange but there were many plot points that were touched upon but were not fully explored. For example, it is never fully explained why the Vatican chose to send Sister Irene to the abbey with Father Burke, out of everyone available. It is also never explained if Father Burke gets any closure about the failed exorcism he had been a part of. There are many points that could have been developed into some really good sub-plots but they were pretty much glossed over and never spoken of again.
Not only this, but a lot of the movie was predictable. Maybe I just know the cliches of horror too much but I knew when there were going to be jump scares and even then, they didn’t scare me. Well, not for the actual horror aspect anyway. If they did make me jump, it was because of loud shrieks and wails that were extremely loud.
In addition, the film, although advertised as an origins story of the Nun, never actually explained how she came to be. Instead, at the start of the movie, the Nun already existed and what we saw was the first battle against her. I felt quite cheated by this as I was expecting a movie that explained how the Nun came into existence and how she became attached to the Warren’s but no such story was proposed; I was quite disappointed by this.
I feel as if the movie relied too heavily on jump scares and that this is where the movie lost it’s James Wan Touch. There was hardly and atmospheric build-up to the scares and when there was, it was so small that it almost wasn’t worth it. These repeated techniques of causing fear also lead to the final showdown between the characters and the Nun pretty boring to watch.
Throughout the film, there were moments where the Nun would appear with the perfect opportunity to kill the characters but instead, it was almost as if she chose to play practical jokes on them to spook them before disappearing for the next five to ten minutes. This meant that by the time the final act rolled around and our main characters were confronted with the Nun once again, there was no sense of jeopardy as the audience mostly felt that it was going to be anti-climatic and were just hoping for the film to hurry up and end.
I think another reason that the audience didn’t really care about the outcome of the film is because the characters were pretty stereotypical and there wasn’t a lot of defining development to make them relatable or to make people care.
The first character we were introduced to was Father Burke. All the information we had on him was that he was basically a demonologist who dealt with ‘miracles’ and that a few years prior, he had been a part of a failed exorcism that had caused the death of a young boy named Daniel (although this isn’t addressed until about halfway through the movie). During the runtime of the film, we don’t really a lot more information about him and it is a shame as I felt as though his back story could have made for an interesting sub-plot as the Nun causes him to hallucinate and see the ghost of the boy who died. I can imagine a story where, whilst confronting everything that is occurring at the Abbey, Father Burke finally gets closure about his role in the death of the young boy and realises that there was nothing he could have done. But despite this being a good idea, there was nothing of the sort even addressed in the film and I feel like it was such a shame and waste of possibility.
The second character we were introduced to was Sister Irene, a young woman how was preparing to take her vows but hadn’t got to by the time of the movie. The first question raised about Irene is why the Vatican chose to send her with Father Burke to the abbey, although she wasn’t technically associated with them. Further into the film, we learn that she has visions of things to come, almost as premonitions/warnings, but again, why she has these is left unexplored.
The final character I wish to talk about is Frenchie. He is the comic relief of the film and although he is supposed to lighten the mood, it seems to be the only thing he does. Besides his witty one liners and pursuit of Irene, he doesn’t get a lot of other screen time or lines. With him having so much knowledge about the abbey and the occurrences there, there was great opportunity to mould him into a fan-favourite and although, in my eyes, he achieved that through his charming and charismatic ‘personality’, I feel like he was also underdeveloped and could have been something a lot better.
The dialogue in the movie was also very strained and not very realistic. I know its is supposed to be a horror movie but as with any movie, dialogue is a major aspect of making people care for characters and thus, root for a good ending. I loved the portrayal of the Warrens’ in the first 2 films in the franchise and the dialogue and the character development of the pair made the audience care for them and their outcomes.
Overall, I felt a little bit cheated by the movie as it seemed that the audience missed out on so much.
I would rate this film a 4 out of 10.
Thanks for reading guys, I hope you’re enjoying my 31 Days of Halloween series. If you have any thoughts or comments, don’t be scared to put them down below or DM me on Twitter – @Eerie_Unsolved