The Nun (NC16)
Starring Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga
Directed by Corin Hardy
This actually happened: towards the end of this movie, the crowd I was watching with, burst out laughing when the titular hellion makes a really dramatic appearance. It was supposed to be a scary moment but the audience wasn’t shrieking — they were snickering! The scene was so over the top that it just looked plain silly. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Nun, the latest spin-off of The Conjuring franchise, is the origin story of Valak, the scene-stealing Marilyn Manson-looking demon that dresses up as a nun that appeared in The Conjuring 2. It takes place in 1950s Romania, where an exorcist (Demian Bichir) and his novitiate assistant (Taissa Farmiga) are there to investigate a young nun’s suicide in an abbey. No prizes for guessing who’s behind it.
As fright-fests go, The Nun has, er, nothing on the two Conjurings, and it’s not that Power-of-Christ-Compels-You compelling enough. Just like Annabelle, the other off-shoot about a Satanic doll. Yes, there’s a few good scares, but for the most part, it’s marred by risible dialogue, convoluted back stories and shopworn terror tactics, which lead to a few too many unintended chuckles, like the ones mentioned earlier.
The movie, directed with workmanlike efficiency by Corin Hardy (The Hallow), was filmed on location in an actual castle in Romania, but for some reason, it comes across more like it was done in a studio soundstage albeit a well-dressed one.
As for The Nun herself, her brief turns in The Conjuring 2 are more terrifying than anything in The Nun the movie. She’s creepy at first, but after a while, she just looks like a cosplayer making her rounds in one of the haunted houses at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Night theme park event, which is not necessarily a bad thing for some folks.
The scariest movie of the year for me so far is Hereditary; The Nun is like the Diet Coke version of that. (**1/2)
Photo: Warner Bros