The Conjuring universe for me has been up and down. I was shocked by how incredible The Conjuring was but was disappointed by its’ sequel The Conjuring 2. I am one of those rare folks that enjoyed Annabelle more than its’ sequel. But I love this universe ultimately and am excited to watch it keep growing.
This weekend The Nun, directed by Corin Hardy, premiers in theaters and this past Wednesday I got a chance to preview it.
I’m seeing a lot of hate out there as the reviews start pouring in – but I’m here to give a positive one! So let’s jump right in.
The scariest part of The Conjuring 2 for me was the nun. It was so surprising and subtle but absolutely terrifying. So I’ve been pretty excited for this flick for awhile. And what I think was the most impressive about this new entry was how scary the nun remained throughout the film. A lot of times with horror flicks, once the monster is finally revealed it loses a lot of its natural scare. But every time the nun appeared and no matter how many times, I was absolutely terrified.
Maybe I just have a deep rooted fear of nuns? I should talk to my therapist about that.
First let’s set the scene –
It’s set in Romania in 1952 at a creepy old castle being used as a convent. Two nuns are standing in front of a marked door that reads “God Ends Here”. One nun opens the door and is instantly sucked into the darkness, the other nun holds an important key shaped relic and runs from the darkness. She promptly throws herself out of a window hanging herself.
Father Burke (played by Demian Bichir) is called upon by the Vatican to investigate this suicide and to bring along Irene (played by Taissa Farmiga). Irene is a nun who has not taken her vows yet and has spent her childhood plagued by visions. When they arrive in Romania they meet with a young man named Frenchie (played by Jonas Bloquet) who found the body originally. He takes them to the convent to investigate and what they find is that all hell has broken loose. Literally.
Right up front I am going to say that there are some seriously cheesey moments in this movie. But there’s also a tone of great naturally comedic moments. And I think what The Nun is asking you to do is not take it so seriously, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The movie allows you to laugh to break the tension and it highlights its dramatic moments. This doesn’t make it a bad movie! Some of the best horror movies are total cheese fests. I think this year we’ve had a lot of very serious horror films which have been fun but I think we’re putting too much pressure on the big budget horror films – we’re forgetting where our genre shines!
There was one scene though where Father Burke is having a very dramatic flashback moment and he throws open a barn door and pauses while gazing off into the distance. His jacket was fluttering in the wind, his hair was swept back, the music was booming. I was like YAAAASSSS FATHER BUUURRKEE WORK THAT POSE!! It was kind of amazing, and now I intend to enter every door that way.
The Nun is also JUMP SCARE CENTRAL!!!! Literally every two minutes there’s a jump scare. And I would say, even for myself a very seasoned horror veteran, I jumped at least three times. In fact, while we were watching, I counted 6 people that left within the first 40 minutes. And when I ran out to go to the bathroom there was two of them standing in the lobby freaking out.
But keep in mind – these are jump scares. This isn’t like…go home and close your eyes and you’re scared. This is AHHH...okay let’s move on. But wow there’s a lot of them. Since the first minute there’s a jump scare and it does not let up. In fact, the first night our characters spend in the convent is like 15 minutes straight of jump scares. When the scene changed to day time the next day, you could physically feel the audience let out a sigh of relief.
I want to talk about some of my favorite moments and scares but these will be spoilers so YOU’RE WARNED!!
As I mentioned earlier, the image of the nun in this movie scares the hell out of me. She’s used very effectively – constantly lurking in the shadows and grabbing people left and right. When her face is revealed, the makeup is great. Bonnie Aarons truly embodies this terrifying character.
There was one particular scene that I keep thinking about where Irene is in this pool of water. The nun slowly rises up from the water, very much like that basement scene in IT. I straight up clutched my face and went “nooooo” softly under my breath. BECAUSE IT WAS TERRIFYING. My film companion, Ceara, saw this and straight up laughed at me. But it was so scary you guys. That fucking nun…
There’s some beautiful imagery in this movie. I mean first of all its set in this gorgeous roaming castle filled with cracked walls and crypts everywhere. But also, the layout of each scene feels so wonderfully thought out. Each scene is like this total gothic romantic painting and I loved it!
I’ll be honest – there are a lot of plot holes in this story. BUT – again – it’s a horror movie. I’m not looking for an Oscar nominated script here. I’m just looking to be entertained which I absolutely was. And sure, there’s a lot of cheese factor and a lot of moments where I was like…wait…WHAT…HOW!? But overall I was on board for most of it.
The film opens with a few brief scenes of the nun’s original appearance in The Conjuring 2 to help set the tale. I didn’t really love this because I kind of feel like Conjuring fans are there because they know where the nun is from. And for theater goers who have just wandered in and want to watch a scary movie, it makes it a little more confusing for them. The Nun could really be watched by anyone who hadn’t see the Conjuring flicks and they’d be just fine.
The ending shows one of the first scenes from The Conjuring where Carolyn is watching the Warrens do a talk on possession. And we suddenly realize the possession they are talking about is Frenchie!! Because near the end of The Nun we see Frenchie get taken the fuck out by the demon and then seemingly get up like nothing happened. Later on, we realize Frenchie had been possessed. And the Warrens had tried to help him years later.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED YA’LL.
END OF SPOILER TERRITORY
Overall, I would say that The Nun is a great addition to the franchise. I don’t know if you need to rush to the theater to watch it. I think it would be just as effective at home. BUT I also want horror to be successful and continue to break box office records. So please go see this in theaters.