The headlines over the past couple of days read: ‘The Nun Heading for Franchise-Best $44 Million Box Office Opening.’ Was there ever any doubt? These movies have an audience. An audience that is going to excitedly drag their girlfriends and boyfriends and fill up seats this entire weekend. The very audience who happily contributed their hard-earned salary to Annabelle‘s US$ 257 million box office gross. The same audience who could not give two shits what a self-proclaimed film nut sitting behind a computer screen thinks of this movie. There is an audience for these movies. I’m just not one of them.
I’m done. So done. I’m done with these crappy, unoriginal, cliche, nonsense; done with jumpscare festivals and done with major studios regurgitating factory-made horror trash in the name of making a quick buck. I just don’t care anymore (not that I ever cared to begin with).
Look, I don’t HATE The Nun. It’s not the kinda shitfest that’ll make you wish George A. Romero would rise from his grave and bitch slap everyone involved in the production. It doesn’t insult your intelligence. It doesn’t make you cringe or hide your face in embarrassment. It doesn’t make you wonder if all the characters in the movie were in fact only born with half a brain and are less intelligent than a drunken Koala. In other words, it’s not Winchester or Truth or Dare.
That said, it’s also the kind of movie that is completely void of a soul. This isn’t a product of passion like James Wan’s The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 are. Here it’s obvious that Warner Bros isn’t interested in expanding upon Wan’s The Conjuring mythology and give us an intriguing horror universe that’ll have us looking over our shoulders for days. No, no no. Warner Bros simply wants to capitalize on the names James Wan and ‘Conjuring’ and milk the damn cash cow dry.
What’s the movie about? The marketing team will tell you, in big bold letters that BEFORE THE CONJURING and BEFORE ANABELLE… THE DARKEST CHAPTER WAS BORN. That this is the story of Valak, the evil entity who haunted Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2. But in reality, Valak is just another interchangeable evil entity and The Nun is just another interchangeable horror movie.
There is a haunted building — here it’s a Convent — and in it, old-school horror trickery involving mirrors, bells, graveyards and secret doors take place. The climax involves the usual crucifix, Holy water and repeatedly chanting religious verses. In a time where the likes of Jordan Peele (Get Out) John Krasinski (A Quiet Place) and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) are changing the game with horror movies that are fresh, intricately directed and thought-provoking, The Nun offers nothing interesting.
But here’s the thing. Even The Conjuring is a conventional horror story. What makes it stand out is James Wan’s and screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes’ exceptional storytelling. Here, the screenplay by Gary Dauberman (co-writer of It) is passable. None of the lines will make you cringe and there is a noticeable attempt at penning interesting characters (or one character at least) — the introduction of Sister Irene played by Taissa Farmiga (who is the brightest of sparks in an otherwise dull movie) is a standout in particular. But that’s about the biggest compliment I can give writing-wise. It says a lot that I still have no clue who Valak is beyond hyperbolic one-liners, nor its significance to the larger Conjuring universe.
Director Corin Hardy previously received acclaim for his work on The Hallow in 2015. However, here his directorial efforts are bland. He brings nothing significant or distinct to the table, not an ounce of style nor flavour. The environment that Hardy has created doesn’t seep out of the screen and influence the ambience and atmosphere of the cinema. You don’t feel as creeped out by the events that are unfolding as the protagonists are. The Nun isn’t scary. It’s just another aggressively mediocre cash grab.
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The Nun isn't scary. It's just another aggressively mediocre cash grab.