Based around the cameo of Valak, the demon nun from The Conjuring 2, it is a spin-off prequel that aims to be an origin story of sorts of one of the most terrifying monsters of modern horror.
Unfortunately, Corin Hardy’s breakout feature is a lacklustre horror bore.
Following the apparent suicide of a nun in a remote abbey in rural Romania, Father Burke (Demian Bichir) is enlisted by the Vatican to investigate what happened.
Assisted by nun-in-training Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga of American Horror Story and The Final Girls) and local man Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), Father Burke travels to the abbey and strange happenings begin to occur.
Unfortunately, that is about as far as any storyline seems to go. As soon as they arrive at the location, the story progression seems to fall to the wayside and is replaced by the “horror within”.
This is one of the biggest flaws of The Nun overall. There isn’t much backstory to any of the characters, meaning the stakes are very low when it comes to rooting for any kind of positive resolution. We gain a bit of insight into the history of Father Burke and Sister Irene, but nothing with any depth, and some parts act solely as explanation for some of the minor plot points later in the film.
When it comes to delivering on scares, The Nun probably has the right idea at the beginning of the film, but from there, it shows no variety in getting the viewer on the edge of their seats. All we get is jumpy stuff and creepy things appearing/disappearing, but this soon loses impact with repetition.
Thankfully, the film saves some of its best (though still not original or unpredictable) scares for the final act, which does give some kind of payoff, but it’s just not enough to pull back the rest of the film.
The performances from the actors are quite strange to say the least; there’s elements of melodrama, but the over-acting and old fashioned parlance makes it laughable in places.
It’s meant to be set in the 1950s, but plays out more like the Victorian era. Jonas Bloquet’s performance as Frenchie is probably the best of the three heroes, but his character’s ill-placed and horribly written attempts at comic relief one-liners in the final act really undermine any sense of dread that could have been built.
The Nun had a lot of potential to be a genuinely scary addition to what is a decent and incredibly successful horror franchise, and so it’s a real shame it wasn’t executed more effectively. Hardy, as a director, clearly had an old-school gothic vision for this film, and it’s these visuals and the location choices that really save The Nun from being a completely dud, but the rest of it lacks any real imagination and it suffers as a result.
An easy watch and entertaining at times, The Nun showed a lot of promise but doesn’t deliver anything new to an increasingly harder to scare audience. It gets 2 stars from us.
You may still be able to catch The Nun in cinemas now.