When it comes to milking a franchise till posterity, The Conjuring universe has become a cow that keeps on giving. After the phenomenal reception that the first two films received from the audience, James Wan set a template for horror film-makers proving time and again that horror can be a money-making genre right up there with the summer blockbusters. As is often the case with any promising franchise, Warner Bros. took the tried and tested path of churning out spin-offs and prequel spin-offs to keep the audience invested in the universe. Despite the lackluster performance of Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, the stories have held pretty well. This very quality of having characters which can exist outside the central story-line makes Conjuring different from its counterparts. Besides the mystery of the Annabelle doll, you also have the Crooked Man and the Nun which captivated audiences, leaving a space for further explorations into their stories. As we speak, The Conjuring 3 is in development and would be coming out sometime in 2019, although Wan may not return to direct it.
Directed by Corin Hardy and co-written by James Wan, The Nun is based in 1952 when a nun commits suicide somewhere in a remote village in Romania. As news reaches the Vatican, the cardinals appoint Father Burke to investigate the incident and take a young nun named Sister Irene with him. The duo meets a local who is known by the name “Frenchie” who lives at the ramparts of the village doing odd jobs. Being the one who had found the dead nun, Frenchie becomes their guide to the desolate church. From the very outset, a feeling of dread courses through the uncalled visitors as they take quarters within the dormitories. Strange apparitions and voices start plaguing the guests as they try to get to the root of the sudden demise of the nun. As things grow worse, a powerful malevolent entity manifests itself, and her target, this time, is Sister Irene. What starts as a routine investigation, soon becomes a raging battle between good and evil. Father Burke and Sister Irene are the only ones who can stop the Nun from entering our world.
The atmosphere of The Nun seems to have been inspired by the description of the Transylvanian countryside by occult writer Bram Stoker. The gothic structures of the abbey add a certain character to the facade even before the story begins. Having said that, the production does not feel natural, not to mention the rolling fog on the ground and even inside the church, the desolate graveyard and the hanging crosses in its corridors. As an audience, you feel as if you were in the midst of an amusement park ride, with all stereotypical horror tropes being thrown at you. This bland stereotype also creeps into the origin story of Valak, the demon that actually takes the form of the Nun. You know its lazy writing when evil just literally comes out from the “gates of hell”. There are several unanswered questions too such as if the entity is so powerful, why did it let the nun commit suicide. She could have easily possessed her and walked out into the world. It is also strange that in a decrepit place like that Sister Irene is so easily convinced that there are other nuns in the church when everything is so bare-bones as if no one had lived there for centuries.
The atmosphere of The Nun seems to have been inspired by the description of the Transylvanian countryside by occult writer Bram Stoker. The gothic structures of the abbey add a certain character to the facade even before the story begins.
Taissa Farmiga (Vera Farmiga’s sister) is perfectly cast for Sister Irene’s character and portrays a headstrong individual who has complete faith in her lord, even though she was yet to take her vows. You can’t help but keep seeing Vera, through her strong resemblance to her. I was hoping that Taissa be possessed in the end, thus becoming the Nun. It would have been exciting to think that Taissa would eventually face Vera, coming full circle, through their resemblance. Not to spoil it for you but the poster was certainly misleading in this regard. Demian Bichir as Father Burke gives an authentic performance as a “rational priest” who questions everything and yet has faith. Jonas Bloquet as Frenchie has his funny moments.
Overall, The Nun is a run-of-the-mill entertainer with your everyday jump-scares that you would have seen a thousand times in other films. The atmospherics are just too convenient and the story leaves you dissatisfied. You would probably be more than glad to re-watch the film that started it all, and that is perhaps the only inspiration that it provides. Corin Hardy’s installment is skippable. I would rather wait for the sequel to The Conjuring than try to find solace in unworthy back-stories.