I was born into one of those "the bloodier the Jesus the better" kinda Catholic families. You know the ones. Lots of crosses that would pass well for "Passion of the Christ" merch with none of the value. The whole experience lent itself well to a healthy love of all things demonic, devilish and downright ghostly in horror films. Demonic possession in a young girl for a priest to tussle with? Sure, I'll bite. Woman with a pixie cut giving birth to the devil's hell spawn? Totally down. Evil anti-christ TODDLER?! Hell yeah!!
So, when I heard that the makers of "The Conjuring" were making a movie on the demonic Nun from "The Conjuring 2" I was all in. I've known a few evil nuns in my lifetime. Less floating and more ruler across the ass, but I could relate.
For the uninitiated, "The Conjuring" series, of which "The Nun" belongs, is a shared universe in which Warner Bros. is attempting to build a Marvel/DC type shared storyline meant to scare the shit out of you rather than leave you rooting in your seat. An easy task it would seem, but Universal couldn't do it (more on that in another editorial). The series follows a couple based on the real-life husband and wife team Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren that travel around the world fighting any and all things that go bump in the night. Until now the films have ranged from pretty damn good to not bad. The scary doll "Annabelle" spinoffs met with mixed results - One bad and one good, respectively.
“The Nun” centers around the backstory of one the Warren’s most visually interesting adversaries. A demonic nun that might be the end of Ed Warren himself as a premonition in “The Conjuring 2” foretells. Director Corin Hardy, screenwriter Gary Dauberman and “The Conjuring”’s creator James Wan, with a “story by” credit, attempt to tell this origin story through the eyes of a priest, a French Canadian ladies man and a nun about to take the veil (I could not make this up). Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga - yes, the sister of Vera Farmiga from the original “Conjuring” films) travel to the Abbey with their guide, a French-Canadian named Frenchie (yes, Jonas Bloquet plays a character named FRENCHIE!) who originally discovered the body of the deceased nun.
Once at the Abbey they talk. They talk some more. And then some more. Then they look in a freezer. After that, they talk about it. For the first hour, I thought the only thing this movie was really cursed with was exposition. I can not understate this. There are a few really cool, but REALLY short flashbacks that SHOULD tell the origin story of the malevolent spirit you came to see and you want to hold on to the scenes so they can't escape and leave you unentertained. I wanted to fall on my knees in the theater like I was in a church pew and say, "PLEASE for all that is GOOD AND HOLY let the scenes morph into the movie I paid to see" (no critic discount here!). But, alas they disappear like the apparitions you think you are supposed to be seeing. The movie barely cracked an hour and a half and yet felt like it had the runtime of "Gone with the Wind".
The performances were good for what the actors were given… A shit ton of dialogue interspersed with a few unearned gasps. The cinematography was decent yet redundant if you had already seen any of the other films in the series.
I can honestly say that this is the first review I have ever written where I am truly struggling here to find something nice to say about the film, but right now I kind of feel like Douglas Fairbanks; ranting about how talkies will be the death of the film industry.
Allow me to be the sacrificial lamb on this one. Do not see this film unless it is a placeholder between two better films and you could use an hour and a half nap. I promise not to wake you with talking…. But the actors will!