I’ll say it right here. James Wan, director, and creator of the original ‘Saw’ film knows a hit series when he sees it but needs to learn when to let it go. In fact, he has a number of record-setting credits under his belt and is best at taking something that previously worked and keeping it going but he so far lacks the awareness of when to let something die; literally and figuratively. In ‘The Nun,’ the horror-fest that started from ‘The Conjuring’ series, he takes us into the world of the frightening character that was the evil presence in ‘The Conjuring 2.’ She was magnificently terrifying and ultimately what made the film but in this new narrative, one in which you’d expect great things based on what you had previously witnessed, she’s not all that terrifying but instead, rather anemic. In this film, what should have been its strengths seemed little trusted and scarcely used.
When the story begins it’s 1952. We’re in an abbey in Romania and are witness to a tantalizing introduction. From the start, there’s hope that ‘The Nun’ is going to be the noteworthy horror film we’ve been waiting for. Something purely evil needs a vessel to continue to survive so a nun sacrifices herself to stop it from using hers by hanging herself. Her body is discovered dangling from the window of the church. The Vatican is notified, and they send a priest by the name of Father Burke (Bichir) and a young nun, Sister Irene (Farmiga), who is about to take her final vows, to check it out. With the help of Frenchie (Bloquet) the very nervous man who found the Sister’s body, they root around in the Abbey and discover quickly that it’s an unholy place. Frenchie believes the crosses surrounding the place are there to keep evil in rather than out. It seems there’s little to prove otherwise.
After Father Burke is haunted by very real demons of his own, demons who wake the audience from a slow start, he and Sister Irene discover that Valak, the defiler and the profane, built a gateway to hell on the grounds so the wicked could walk amongst the living, but the church secretly sealed it hoping to keep Valak at bay. However, as evil usually does, it manages to, quite predictable, escape.
‘The Nuns’ downfall is that there’s very little about it that’s unique and try I did but I found little of the acting remarkable, as well. Having been scared frozen by her character in ‘Conjuring 2,’ I assumed I’d get much more from her yet was largely disappointed. If you’re a fan of the franchise I’d say you will most likely enjoy parts of the film, especially its ending… except the part that suggests there’s a way they could continue the storyline further. Quite frankly, after seeing this, I’d like them to bury any idea they have of doing such a thing.