A horror spin-off without spirit

Jeff Lamson – 
 Arts & Entertainment Editor

Fans of “The Conjuring” deserve better than the underwhelming spinoff, “The Nun.”

Viewers have come to expect subtle grounded horror from James Wan, but “The Nun” is just another example of how his ideas, worlds and characters are best handled in his own hands. The same happened with the “Insidious,” and “Saw,” franchises.

Director, Corin Hardy, and writer, Gary Dauberman, make every choice that makes the most oppressive and constant source of tension from “The Conjuring 2,” into an ineffective and generic villain.

In typical factory horror style, the character of the Nun is given a back story and way too much screen time, as little as it is. The attempts at scares, tension or suspense becomes a jarring exercise in the principle of diminishing returns. The jarring nature of it comes from the blatantly telegraphed camera movements and music queues.

Basically, if you see the frame pan one way, you can expect it to pan back and reveal the same “figure in the shadows” scare that just becomes a waste of time once you can help but notice it. It just screams to you that you are watching a film and takes you right out of the experience.

The film’s central plot is supposed to follow a nun who is yet her vows and a priest that are sent together to investigate the suicide of a nun at a Romanian abbey. And this would be a great set up if it wasn’t abandoned by throwing nonsense at the viewer about paper thin back-stories and relentless, tensionless and worst of all, plotless scare sequences. Once the first night falls in the film, all hope of fulfilling on the premise with interesting characters flies out the window. Most of the film rides on the belief that unsettling religious imagery veiled in CG is enough to be a good use of time.

It’s rare to see a film waste the inherent opportunities presented in the setting. There is better set design at Lake Compounce’s Haunted Graveyard. Also, to be in Romania, the home of Dracula and making interior scenes that look like they could have been shot anywhere is a sin.

There are also repeated scenes in a graveyard that are trying to evoke some of the iconic scenes from “The Wolf Man” (1941), but completely miss the mark with more phoned in jump-scares.

Not to mention, there isn’t even a single Romanian character who isn’t reduced to the role of “townsfolk.” The priest, Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) only have one contact in the town where the abbey is and he’s French-Canadian. So what reason was there for this to take place in Romania at all?

Also, spoilers, but it is hard to take a film seriously when it has dialogue like, “The blood of Christ,” “Holy s**t,” “The holiest,” during its big dramatic climax. Not every film has to quip like a Marvel movie.

The film devolves into this kind of ridiculous dialogue more and more as it reaches the end and becomes increasingly predictable to the point where my audience was calling lines of dialogue verbatim, and plot lines with high accuracy. Plot lines and character details end up going nowhere and exist for nothing other than to have a slightly different figure in the dark during scares.

“The Nun,” fails at everything that it seems that it set out to accomplish. It’s not worth the time or money of anyone whom has even the slightest amount of standards for the media that they consume.

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson


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