My Thoughts Are With The Nun Hoping that It Manages to Die a Dignified Death At the Boxoffice
What makes The Nun so terrifying is that it comes from a franchise that continues to make awful spinoffs that don’t deserve to exist. The Conjuring and, to a lesser extent, The Conjuring II were some of the best horror movies in the new millennium. Unfortunately, once something shows the slightest bit of success Hollywood producers descend upon it like a pack of hungry vultures ripping off any piece that they could possibly make into more lucrative franchises. We saw this with Annabelle and even Annabelle: Creation, and now audiences get to be scared out of their mind by a cross-dressing demon whose motives are far from clear.
In all honesty, I’ve seen a lot of really bad horror films over the year from Slender Man to Truth or Dare. The Nun though is so much worse than any of those though because it had to promise of greatness with the addition of director Corin Hardy (who was responsible for The Hollow, a film that captured my imagination initially). It also included Demián Bichir in a lead role, an actor whose work I’ve always enjoyed. Unfortunately, not only wasted the talent it had both in front of the camera and behind it, it also managed to mangle its story into an unrecognizable mess. There were incredibly few parts where I could actually figure out what was going on because the editing used on the film is spastic and lacks a solid understanding of concepts such as suspense and raising the stakes for characters.
Ah, but not all of this can be blamed on editing, especially that last part. That’s because at no point did I actually find myself giving two shits about any one of the screen. In The Nun, Bichir is a priest who is sent to investigate an Abby in Romania where nuns are apparently offing themselves en masse. The wise old Vatican decides to send a novice nun in training to assist him (played by Taissa Farmiga) whose main contribution to the film is playing a damsel in distress to stupid to recognize that all the creepy things going on in the haunted Abby might be warning signs to “keep out.” Of course, horror movies tend to be fueled by the stupidity of their characters, but to a certain degree I can’t help but feel all the terrible things that happen to these characters are their own damn faults. After all, God helps those who help themselves and these slow-witted forces for good couldn’t help themselves out of a wet paper bag.
The most disappointing part of The Nun though is that it tries so hard to live up to the kinds of jump scares that audiences have come to love from The Conjuring and the Annabelle movies. Unfortunately. Hardy is not a horror director who does well with gimmicks likes these. His past films have been much more thought-provoking, characters driven films that have taken care to make sure you feel enough for the characters that the suspense becomes almost palpable. The real problem is that it feels like writer Gary Dauberman (who surprisingly gave us It) half-assed everything about this movie. He puts more into the story than it needs and takes away from what audiences are really there to see. His take on the mythos behind the infamous Nun undermines the malevolent spirit that seems to lurk in the shadows just for the sake of invoking madness in her/its victims. Whenever you truly try to justify or explain the motivations of pure evil, it humanizes your villains to the point where they no longer seem like a hell beast bent on destruction. I’m not saying the audience will ever sympathize with The Nun, but real horror comes from not knowing what it is that is after you.
I will admit that the atmosphere for The Nun is pretty creepy, if not a little overdone. The rundown Romania abbey creates a sense of doom for the very opening of the film, but it gives off the same vibe that audiences have seen so many times before in haunted house movies. Not that you’d really get a chance to notice given how big the budget for fog machines must have been for The Nun. Because of this, The Nun doesn’t really offer anything more than it needs to in order to skate by as an early fall horror film. The only thing missing are a few bats flapping around and wolf howl in the distance. There’s no way it would be good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with films like Hereditary or perhaps even the other scary movies so many fans of the genre are looking forward to closer to Halloween.
Instead, The Nun is nothing more than filler. Something slapped into an early weekend in September because there was nothing else being released that could threaten this films box office. It’s a mindless and atrocious attempt to turn a minor character in another scary movie into a bigger threat than it deserves to. A higher body count, a big focus on the psychological influence the demon had on it’s would be hunters, and maybe some actually scary scenes instead of jump scares would have helped this to be so much more than it was. For me personally, a candle lighting in the background is not enough for me to cry out loud in terror. Then again, the good news is that you don’t exactly have to be brave to make it through The Nun. In fact, all you probably need is a little boredom to survive. That’s far from an endorsement to actually spend money on this trashy flick that is going to serve as nothing more than a blemish on the careers of everyone involved in it.