I’m a big fan of The Conjuring movies. The original is one of my favourite scary movies, and while I enjoyed the sequel, for me it just didn’t live up to the very high bar set by the first. Creepy doll Annabelle from the first movie landed her own disappointing outing, followed by a surprisingly enjoyable sequel/prequel in Annabelle: Creation. Now, next up in The Conjuring Universe is the turn of The Nun. After a brief, but very effective appearance in The Conjuring 2, The Nun movie looks to expand the universe even further, providing us with an insight into how the demon nun came to be.
We’re in Romania, 1952. A large, remote, creepy looking convent is having trouble trying to contain something dark and evil, resulting in one of the nuns hanging herself. The body is discovered by Frenchie, a local farmer bringing supplies from the nearby village. When word gets back to the Vatican, priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is sent, along with Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate.
They learn that the convent was built in the middle ages by the Duke of St Carta who, while being possessed, also created a gateway from hell somewhere within its basement. Religious figures were able to seal the gateway using the blood of Christ, but during the second world war bombings resulted in the seal being broken, releasing the demon Valak. Since then, the nuns have engaged in constant prayer in an attempt to keep evil at bay.
As you’d expect, the whole tone of this movie is very dark, and very gloomy. It takes a while to get going, and there is nothing of interest to keep you hooked. Aside from Sister Irene, the characters are dull, and occasional attempts at humour fall flat. The tense expectation of chills and scares soon fizzles out when you’re realise that there really aren’t any. Just plenty of prolonged periods of quietness, followed by LOUD NOISE!! Which may work for some people, but I just found it annoying.
The characters wander around dark corridors, playing on the whole creepy castle vibe, and shadowy nuns are everywhere. Valak himself occasionally appears, but it’s nothing more than an attempt at a jump scare. The whole thing just seems like such a wasted opportunity and I found myself looking at my watch even during the climactic scenes where they’re trying to seal the gateway once more. Not good for a movie that’s only 96 minutes long.
The one thing I did like is how they managed to link everything back to The Conjuring movies, in particular the opening scenes of the original movie where the Warrens are giving their lecture, and the consequences that brings for the rest of the movies. Aside from that I just found the whole thing disappointing.