By: Sean-Patrick King
When “The Conjuring” was released in 2013, I doubt even the most avid horror fans suspected this sleeper-hit to spawn its own devilish cinematic universe. After the financial success of two spin-off/prequels featuring an absolutely adorable little doll by the name of Annabelle, “The Conjuring” cinematic universe has returned to terrify audiences with its fifth—and certainly not last—installment, “The Nun”. Margarita in hand, I braced myself for what was billed to be the “darkest chapter in ‘The Conjuring’ universe.”
To be honest, the early reviews of “The Nun” had prepared me for an absolute train wreck of a film featuring dimly-lit corridors, dreary jump scares, and only a shortchange of appearances by our beloved title character. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 27%, this presumed Razzie contender had set the bar far below its predecessors, a bar “Annabelle” likely does demonic pull-ups on for breakfast. However, after a tense and atmospheric opening scene featuring The Bar Exam the demon Valak hunting down a rather young looking Rose McGowan nun and leading her to an untimely demise, I was pleasantly surprised, a little bit spooked, and ready for a second margarita.
“The Nun” tells the story of Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, sister of Vera Farmiga who stars in the original Conjuring films), an almost-nun who has yet to take her vows. Along with Father Burke (Demián Bichir), a sometimes-successful exorcist, Sister Irene is contacted by the Vatican to investigate the incident from the opening scene. What follows is approximately 86 minutes of people being buried alive, praying while crying, and running around screaming. It makes for a fun, yet bumpy, ride.
For what the film lacks in plot and character development, “The Nun” makes superb use of creepy and gothic cinematography. In fact, the movie’s Hitchcock-inspired aesthetic serves as possibly the most interesting and compelling aspect of the movie, besides our demonic Nun-friend. The main action of the film takes place in 1952 at the secluded and very haunted-looking Cârța Monastery in the Transylvania region of Romania, because of course it does. Creepy corridors abound, the Abbey seems to be the prime location for the inaugural season of Ryan Murphy’s Romanian Horror Story. With plenty of opportunities to float through long hallways, torment nuns in perpetual adoration, and dwell in a cellar scrawled with the Latin phrase “Finit hic deus” (for those who don’t remember from Legal Traditions, “God Ends Here”), it is no wonder our title character calls this place home.
The nun, also known as the demon Valak, the defiler, the profane, the marquis of snakes, khaleesi of the great grass sea, protector of the realm, lady regnant of the seven kingdoms, breaker of chains, and mother of…wait, that’s someone else…looks unquestionably stunning in a floor-length black gown designed by Lucifer himself. The outfit includes an exquisite monochrome tunic with a pair of Spring/Summer ‘17 Saint Laurent YSL Black Logo Espadrilles. My soul was SNATCHED each time Valak made a sickening appearance on screen.
While the film attempts to provide Valak with some backstory by explaining Valak was summoned in the Dark Ages by a clearly problematic Duke, the writers are most certainly setting the stage for another Valak spin-off set in the Dark Ages. One can only hope this inevitable tale will provide Valak with far more opportunities to petrify moviegoers.
Even though “The Nun” is, ultimately, a forgettable tale which fails to conjure up the terror of its predecessors—as well as this year’s horror masterpiece, “Hereditary”—”The Nun” provided for a somewhat satisfying horror experience that had me ready for the Halloween season.
Final Rating: three out of five stars. While you definitely won’t walk out of the theater feeling as if you’ve wasted $12.00 on a movie ticket, this is a film best enjoyed from Redbox.
What to Drink While Watching: Strawberry Lemon Spritzer, because just because you’re in law school doesn’t mean it isn’t still summer…or something like that.
- 3 oz. Moscato
- 2 oz. Sparkling Mineral Water
- 2 Cut Strawberries
- Lemon Garnish
- For an Extra Kick – 1 oz. Belvedere Vodka