The latest film in The Conjuring universe tried to set up the story for a previous film, The Conjuring 2, in the creepiest way possible — and failed.
The Nun, set in 1952, is a prequel for the Conjuring 2. After two nuns in an abbey in Romania attempt to confront a demonic presence, they both end up dead. One of the nuns killed herself, prompting the Vatican to start an investigation. Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) are called to the investigation because of their background in dark happenings.
The start seemed promising, until “Frenchie” (Jonas Bloquet), the man who found the nun that killed herself, was introduced. He immediately felt like the comedic relief of the film, trying to crack jokes about something that wasn’t funny. His character was also wildly inappropriate. Frenchie would not stop making jokes about wanting to have sex with Sister Irene despite her being uncomfortable every time.
The original Conjuring movie was a hit because of how the family was set up to make us care about them. The family of seven sunk all their money into a house so they could have a better life, automatically making the audience root for them. There were typical jump scares that almost all horror movies use, but they didn’t feel cheap. The sheer terror on the girls’ faces during the movie sold us on the horror that their family was facing.
The setting of the film was creepy enough: an old, falling apart Romanian abbey. The villagers also surrounded the abbey with hundreds of crosses to “keep in the evil.” The dark and haunting shots of the sky and mountains helped add to the creepiness of the place in general.
One of the main problems with the film was there was not a lot of character development. Viewers saw that Father Burke had regret from an exorcism he performed on a young boy years before that went bad. The boy came back to haunt Father Burke in a confusing way that took away from the original plot of the nun being the demon to worry about.
It was poorly explained that Sister Irene had visions as a child to the point that the church was worried about her. The plot line of her visions came in and out of the movie at awkward times and didn’t explain enough of what was happening. Farminga is not to blame, though. The actress has done exceedingly well in previous creepy roles, such as in American Horror Story seasons one and three. She fits horror roles well but not in the cheap, strictly horror actor way. Farminga did the best she could with the role.
The CGI nun looked very different from the nun in the second Conjuring movie. Her creepiness was overdone with sharp teeth and too much up-close camera time. Part of the disturbing allure of the nun from the second movie was from how we couldn’t fully see the details of her face.
The resolve of the film when Father Burke and Sister Irene defeat the nun (obviously going to happen) was so hokey it was laughable. Sister Irene goes to an extreme in an almost blasphemous fashion that seemed like a more comedic way to end the demon.
One redeeming quality of the film was the ending and how it connected itself to the first film. It was revealed that the video Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren show in the first movie has a connection to The Nun. We also saw that Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) was at the presentation of the Warrens and saw the clip.
This film in the Conjuring universe failed to live up to the spookiness the first film brought in and an almost comedic way. The first two films were so good that The Nun took away from them. The series should stop making movies after this flop because it has exhausted the possible stories within the films.
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Taissa Farmiga's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.