Review : The Nun ★★

THE NUN

Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring : Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Bonnie Aarons

The Conjuring franchise has become one of the most revered horror franchise of recent times (well apart from the disappointing Annabelle). One of the biggest highlights from the last mainstream entry, The Conjuring 2, was the demonic presence of Valek, a nun, but not so holy. So it was inevitable there would be an origin story, but would it deliver, or be awfully underwhelming like the previous origin attempt with Annabelle?

Set in post WW2 Europe, Romania to be exact. An isolated monastery out in the forest, is being terrorized by an unknown satanic force. As a local discovers the corpse of one of the Nuns, news filters back to Rome, who dispatch one of their own to further investigate matters, Father Burke (Bichir). Together with Nun-to be, Sister Irene (Farmiga) set off east, to confront the demon (Aarons).

One of the biggest difference with this film, compared to the main series, is the director. James Wan who has created some fantastic horror, is not at the helm here, but rather Corin Hardy. What makes the Conjuring movies so chilling, is rather what you don’t see, than what you do. Building up the suspense is ways other than simply using jump scares for cheap thrills. Such as the use of a simple eerie painting in Conjuring 2. The Nun actually starts of rather well, the locations are perfect for a good scare, forests, check, graveyards, check, a church, check! It all builds up fairly well, one scene featuring the corpse of the nun from the start of the film is done very strongly. But as soon as the demon Valek is revealed (which is far too early in the film) it unfortunately falls back to the traps that catch out many horror flicks, jump scares.  Once the veil of mystery is lifted, it almost becomes laughably comedic at times.

Speaking of comedy, we are introduced to ‘Frenchie’, the local guide who originally stumbled across the body. He is in essence the best part of the film, but also the worst! His sassy humour is indeed quite funny, but it feels awfully out of place. Sure a laugh is useful to break the tension at certain moments, but having it go on through the film felt a rather odd choice. As great as his lines may be, it really does take away a lot of the sinister aura from scenes.

The plot is also very lazy, with one scene in particular summarizing the entire background to the events in a few minute or so. Thanks random side character! Sister Irene is the person we follow, as she attempts to dig deeper into the mystery. The reason she is on this journey is her prior knowledge of the area, even though she admits to never being in Romania. This is never addressed again! Nor are her demonic nightmares she constantly has, as she hasn’t been exposed to out demon previously, nor is she ‘cursed’ as someone of special interest. Valek’s plan also never really makes sense, if the demon is already free, why is it still here? The film doesn’t really make it clear what its agenda is. The film sets up an intriguing ending, to how it may link to the ‘current’ events in the Conjuring universe, but the film stumbles, and goes another way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but its far less dramatic than what they could have gone with.

Overall, The Nun isn’t a total dud, there are scenes which are genuinely scary,  and Valek is as ghastly as it was in the prior movie (before is goes full cheese by the finale), there have been far worse horror films out this year, but considering the other films in this franchise, The Nun really fails to deliver, and is no where near as unnerving as the film it follows, Annabelle Creation.

Annabelle:Creation, A Vast Improvement

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Annabelle:Creation is the follow up to the 2014 horror, Annabelle. A spin off from The Conjuring franchise. Although Annabelle was a hit at the box office, it wasn’t well received by both fans and critics.  But as we saw last year with the Origins of Evil, an underwhelming first entry can be saved by an impressive second outing! Can Creation do the same for Annabelle?

Creation is directed by David F. Sandberg, who also directed Lights Out,  which was a fascinatingly created horror using a unique concept and managed to not fall into most of the usual horror troupes! So expectation was raised for Creation, and it’s nice to say, that Creation makes up for the lackluster original.

The sequel tells the story a group on orphans, who are moving in with the Mullins family, who have kindly offered to take in the children following their eviction. The Mullins however are still dealing with the loss of their young daughter, following a car accident, a daughter that they are unwilling to let go off. It’s not long before the orphans realize not everything is as it seems in their lonely, isolated home out in the middle of nowhere….

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Janice (Talitha Bateman) & Linda (Lulu Wilson) are two of the orphans, who the film follows throughout the movie. It’s this friendship that they have that makes the movie feel a lot more immersive than random no name characters who are simply there to be killed off! Janice, who suffers from polio, causing her to require crutches for walking, was a different way to add tension.  The moment it’s revealed she has a condition, the entire theater reacted all the same, she will be the poor girl who gets the unwanted attention of our demon!  Lulu Wilson also appeared in Origins of Evil, and is already making a promising career in the horror genre. Both young actors do a strong job with their roles.

The film is very much a game of two halves. The first half is very much at a serene pace, all about the fear the girls are going through, and the presence of the Mullins, especially Mrs Mullins (Miranda Otto), who happens to never leave her room, and is never seen by the girls, or the nun looking after the girls. Whereas Mr Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) appears to be a stoic person, who displays very little affection towards the children. The movie does a great job in building up the suspense, and there are always something happening in the background! So pay attention! Personally I preferred this part of the film more, as the Annabelle doll really did a wonderful job of being disturbing, irregardless of the fact it never actually moves!! The scenes involving the tea party and Linda firing her toy gun into the darkness, are very unnerving!

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The entire tone of the film changes as soon as the reveal of the demon is made, and it starts going on a rampage! The demon looks pretty generic, and it does talk, which really does take away some of it’s mystique. But, as a horror movie, the intense panic of the 2nd half is required, and it does a fairly good job. It does get surprisingly graphic at times,  considering the subtle tones of the earlier scenes, it does feel slightly out of left field! But the characters are rather well made, and you do root for their survival, rather than hoping they just die for their stupid decisions.

The film still suffers some inconsistent details. Considering the main group of orphans are all young girls, they really don’t act like a young child facing a demonic presence, yes there are some screams and terror at points, but some other parts, they act rather calm, considering the situation they are in! There are also scenes where things feel like you have to just accept the moment.  Considering the home is filled with various other children, the Mullins, and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), the home does feel very empty at times suiting the moment!  There are scenes were both Linda & Janice would most likely call for help, rather than just going it alone for the sake of the drama!

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Overall, the positives do outweigh the negatives. Creation gives us a solid horror movie, with intriguing characters, and some genuinely creepy moments! It also give us a look into fan favorite Valak, who will have it’s own spin off soon! If you enjoyed Origins of Evil, you will definitely want to give this a watch too!

 

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