The Nun will test your faith in the Conjuring Universe

Before we get started I’d like to state the following: shut your dumb mouth at the movies. There is literally no excuse. Shut up. The movie, being a movie and all, CANNOT HEAR YOU, and the rest of the audience does not want to hear you. Stay home. At home, you can talk to the screen, yell at the screen, throw things at the screen, and do it all with no pants on if you are so inclined, but if you decide to leave your house and partake in a shared experience (meaning you must acknowledge that other people exist), then shut your mouth. It’s one thing to react to a movie if the mood moves you, which in horror, often takes the form of a gasp, yelp, scream, or sometimes even a laugh. That’s all fine. Even quietly sharing a comment with your neighbor is permitted here and there. But to give orders to the characters, loudly advise what you would do in their situation, or worst of all, deliver non-specific emotive declarations in an effort to entertain the rest of the audience is absolutely unacceptable. If you do this, let it be known that I despise you, and most other people despise you. In fact, the only people who don’t despise you are other people who do this kind of thing, and they’re wrong. Just like you. Shut up. Shut your mouth. Stay home. AND PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. 

Or better yet, take your phone out of the theater and then leave the theater entirely and then never come back to the theater ever again because you are not mature enough to handle the enormity of such simple tasks as “noticing other people.” So shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Put your phone away. Shut your dumb face. 

Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad if you were just being blissfully ignorant, but you aren’t. There are multiple signs in every theater in the world that explicitly say “Don’t talk or text during the movie.” Then, right before the movie starts, they project the same sign onto the screen while a booming voice reads it to you. There is literally no way you could miss the memo unless you were both blind and deaf, in which case, I can’t imagine that going to movies is your hobby. It’s clear that you run your mouth and play on your phone because YOU DON’T CARE. So please, shut up or go home. 

Phew. Okay. Can you tell that I had a chatty theater at tonight’s screening of The Nun?

I guess it doesn’t matter. Even the most pristine moviegoing conditions couldn’t have saved this one. Shame too. There really was a lot of potential for this latest entry in the Conjuring Universe (that is officially a thing now), as well as a lot of hype. From the teaser trailer which was pulled from YouTube for being too scary, to the otherwise minimal ad campaign, it’s clear that the studio has a lot of faith in this character. And why wouldn’t they? According to my dad, even the least haunted nuns are reason to shiver (he was a lefty who went to Catholic School in the 50s – he’s received many a switch to his evil left hand). If anything, making a spooky nun movie should be an easy home run. There’s a whole sub-genre of horror devoted to it (“Nunspolitation”), and centuries of demonic lore to draw from for inspiration. Yet The Nun nonetheless proves to be the weakest entry in the series so far, and next to Annabelle, that’s saying something.

Audiences first met the titular character in The Conjuring 2, where she tormented the Warrens as they purged another household of malevolent spirits.  But where did she come from? The Nun aims to answer that question. I think. 

The film opens in 1952, with a duo of nuns being attacked by some sort of evil force. One of the sisters is sucked into a black void, while the other ends up hanging herself from the church’s main window. Word of this suicide makes its way to the Vatican where it’s decided that someone be sent to investigate. Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, sister of The Conjuring’s Vera, characters unrelated) are sent to Romania to see what the deal is. There they join up with a local man named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), and head to the spooky old church where “scary” things start happening immediately. 

While the immediate pacing of the film is admirable, it fails in giving us any reason to care. The characters all bounce around, free of logistical concerns, while a variety of demonic baddies appear over their shoulders, scream in their faces, or grab at them willy nilly. This happens for about 90 minutes, and then it stops happening just in time to remind us that this is indeed connected to The Conjuring. 

And that’s it.

This film reeks of being chopped to pieces before release, What with its almost entirely nonsensical nature. I do wonder what could have been. Director Corin Hardy (The Hallows) ain’t no slouch, nor is screenwriter Gary Dauberman (It), but both voices seem squelched by the presumed size of the project (as it relates to the universe, not in a vacuum). Add to that the utterly turgid cinematography, and you’ve got a drab looking mess of well-conceived scares in service of nothing. 

But hey, the evil nun is played by Bonnie Aarons, who played the bum in Mulholland Drive. So that’s cool.

The Nun opens in Philly theaters today.

Author: Dan Scully

Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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