THE NUN (2018) Reviews and overview

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‘Witness the darkest chapter in The Conjuring universe’

The Nun is a 2018 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) from a screenplay by James Wan (The ConjuringSaw) and Gary Dauberman (IT; Wolves at the Door; Swamp Monkey; et al). The movie stars Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Charlotte Hope and Ingrid Bisu.

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret.

Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorised audiences in The Conjuring 2, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned…

As with the Annabelle movies, The Nun is an offshoot from The Conjuring franchise as part of a new universe of supernatural-themed scare movies. It is rated ‘R’ by the MPAA for “terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images. The reported budget was $22 million.

On its opening weekend and despite many negative reviews, The Nun earned an estimated $53.5 million in the USA, plus $77.5 million internationally, for an initial box office take of $131 million. By September 30, the worldwide take was $330,018,048, according to Box Office Mojo. This makes The Nun more successful than any of the previous The Conjuring universe films.

The Nun was released on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital by Warner Bros on December 4, 2018.

“The most common complaints center around the use of jump scares, some familiar horror tropes and a few implausible moments in the story. These personally didn’t bother me since the trailer showed there would be jump scares, yes the horror tropes were familiar (as they were in other installments) and this is the 5th part of a movie series.” All Horror

“Instead of a more traditional approach, the new feature presents us with implausible situations and a story that is oftentimes a mess. It isn’t nearly as well told as its predecessor, but that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. This insane flick is a myriad of nightmarish imagery with (too many) CGI monsters and a whimsical funhouse approach.” Arrow in the Head

“Hardy may lean a bit too heavily on simple jump scares and dream sequences for my liking (and I might have thrown a few extra characters into the mix, if only to bolster the mystery angle and provide for a few more murders!) but there’s still quite a bit to appreciate here.” Bloody Disgusting

The Nun enjoys a lively sound design, showing more skill with eerie noises than visual aggressiveness, finding crude CGI ruining the potential for gory encounters. The central appeal of Valak and her cold stare remains, but Hardy doesn’t do enough with the monster, while Dauberman’s writing gets bogged down in Christian mythology…”

” …while it’s not a particularly scary film, it’s still a tense narrative that further binds James Wan’s cinematic universe together. Even better, Corin Hardy’s direction slickly presents it all with a confident flare of someone who truly loves horror films, and it shows in every frame.” CinemaBlend

” …expect a glut of CGI, super slick gore, and literally every type of horror trope you can imagine, going as far back as the old Universal Monsters lore, what with the classic Romania setting. But, you know what’s really not scary? Backstory. When will these Tinseltown suits learn that the more you reveal, the less you scare.” Consequence of Sound

“Even with a few stumbles and played-out tropes, The Nun provides audiences with another solid entry in a franchise that just will not quit […] Backed by outstanding performances, striking cinematography, and an interesting tie-in to the other films, there is plenty here for horror fans.” Cryptic Rock

” …there’s a great setting and great performances, but there are a handful of scenes that really help this movie stand out for me, including a segment at a local graveyard that is one of the highlights of the film. It shows that the movie has enough tricks up its sleeve and doesn’t need to overuse Valak to make you uneasy, focusing more on character and the creep factor than on gore.” Daily Dead

” …The Nun is campily funny and it’s clearly meant to be. Fun one-liners and the frequent appearances of Valak at the end of various long corridors (definitely this demon’s MO) feel like cheeky winks and stop The Nun from feeling purely like a crass cash in.” Den of Geek! UK

“It’s certainly not scary, and the family dynamic that made the characters in the earlier films somewhat empathetic is missing here. Burke and Irene are paper thin, Frenchie is on hand for some tonally jarring comic relief, and we see far too much of The Nun — early and often — to allow her to be a truly frightening presence.” Den of Geek! USA

The Nun is a good-looking film (barring the odd dodgy lighting effects) with some strong design elements including a graveyard full of the least-reassuring crucifixes we’ve ever seen. But you’ll wait in vain for Hardy to take advantage of all he’s got and deliver some genuine scares.” Digital Spy

“The Nun is the most unique, moody, atmospheric, and relentlessly sinister chapter in The Conjuring franchise. Reminiscent of the Hammer Horror heydays, this film is gothic to the core! Where it ranks within The Conjuring franchise as a whole will depend on an individual’s personal preferences, but no one can deny that Valak is an iconic horror villain…” Dread Central

” …what’s missing (the scares, the character development, the engaging mythology) isn’t necessarily the stuff that costs money or demands a grand scope. If you have a scary movie that isn’t scary, without potent character development, an engaging story, much in the way of visual flourish and a bare minimum of wit, what exactly do you have? It turns out that you have The Nun.” Forbes

“There isn’t a genuinely frightening or interesting moment here. This is a film abjectly reliant on cliched soundtrack stabs and earthbound jump-scares.” The Guardian

” …in jettisoning the focus on family of the previous films, it gives us characters whose interactions with each other feel less than detailed, and who are more archetypal than real. But it’s good clean fun nevertheless, and the set pieces expertly supply the tension-and-release satisfactions of the genre.” The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s not a bad film, but it doesn’t do anything exciting with a creature that had a lot of hype riding behind it. If anything, this might’ve been a momentum killer for me. It just feels so stiff and formulaic, like it was crafted to meet the expectations of the studio. Like someone said you need a young pretty lead, a handsome rogue, a creepy kid, and jump scares. Make it happen.”

“Predictable. Boring. And the story was so weak it numbed Valak down to something less scary. The final moments of Annabelle: Creation served as more frightful moment than all of The Nun combined. And don’t get me started on the whole blood of Christ thing. So, so hokey.” Horror Society

” …this one’s really not very good at all, and not even a real EuroGothic feel evinced during the opening twenty minutes can save it. There are some great locations, gothic sets, and a pinch of Fulci. But the screenplay is truly awful. An hour in and I had no idea what was going on. Eighty minutes in and I glanced with relief at my watch knowing it would all soon be over.” House of Mortal Cinema

” …The Nun stumbles by not delivering any real terror or investment in its characters, instead resting on its strong visuals and atmosphere and, strangely, humor. Fans of The Conjuring franchise itching for more lore to pore over will get what they came for, but if you were hoping that this would be the scariest film in the franchise… keep praying.” IGN

” …makes the most of the film’s Romanian setting, with Transylvania’s imposing and stunning Corvin Castle serving as a stand-in for the film’s ominous Abbey. Utilizing The Conjuring cinematic palette of stark greys and cool blues, not to mention a smattering of upside-down crosses, Hardy carves out a Gothic nightmare that both stands on its own and sits at home in the horror series.” IndieWire

“All of this is fairly predictable stuff, and while Hardy clearly is far more concerned with creating atmosphere and tension than with offering cheap scares, there’s something distancing about his technique. Some of that is the screenplay, which never makes the leap from a hollow idea—taking an established character and creating a story that’s an excuse to show more of said character—to a story with merits of its own.” Mark Reviews Movies

” …once you strip away the boo moments, once you sort the living from the dead, the only ‘outside reality’ to which The Nunrefers is the (fraudulent) world of the Warrens, and the only place for which Vakal seems destined – perhaps after another sequel outing or several – is the Warrens’ room of curious cabinets where all these stories are ultimately contained. The Nun is effective as visceral, in-the-moment horror, but there is little of substance beneath the simple.” Projected Figures

“Once everyone gets to the abbey, the film simply gives up the ghost and cynically indulges every horror trick in the book. Hands burst through doors and grab people; crosses magically turn upside down; nuns go flying or are set aflame […]. A little of this stuff goes a long way, and a lot of this stuff doesn’t go very long at all.” Rolling Stone

“Bookending its own story between flashes of The Conjuring 2and a scene from the original movie which ties a few things together might prove exciting as the series continues too, but despite those glimmers of promise, The Nun, which has proudly been calling itself ‘the darkest chapter’ in the series in the run-up to its release, winds up being the dullest instead.” SciFiNow

The Nun works neither as a stand alone horror film, nor as an extension of the Conjuring universe (such a weird thought). It’s a boring, uneventful, downright ludicrous attempt to capitalize on less than four minutes of screen time in an infinitely better film. It isn’t the first time a film attempting to capitalize on success will have failed, I guess I just expected better.” Screen Anarchy

“Hardy revels in the opportunity to tell the story as a series of eerie set pieces. Until a computer-enhanced finale somewhat deflates things, he wrings chills from carefully crafted cinematography and production design, imaginative staging and creepy locations (some in Transylvania itself) that add to the authenticity.” Time Out New York

“Farmiga and Bichir are as reliable as ever in their whisper-slight roles, yet it’s the charming Paquet who threatens to run away with the film, tackling his character as a sort of hipster Bruce Campbell amidst all the straight-faced gloom-and-doom. Indeed, The Nun’s most interesting touches come when the film’s craftsmen try to bring some anachronistic life to the identikit Gothic environs…” Variety

“Scares are often on the generic side (pitch-black doorway, hand reaches out), and while some wild effects work enjoys the zanier side of Hell’s mouth opening up to spit venom across Earth’s surface, it’s missing the masterfully torturous tone that Wan’s universe otherwise aims for.” We Got This Covered

Cast and characters:

  • Taissa Farmiga … Sister Irene
  • Demián Bichir … Father Burke
  • Jonas Bloquet … Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault
  • Charlotte Hope … Sister Victoria
  • Ingrid Bisu … Sister Oana
  • Bonnie Aarons .. Valak / The Nun
  • Jonny Coyne … Gregoro
  • Mark Steger … The Duke
  • Sandra Teles … Sister Ruth
  • Manuela Ciucur … Sister Christian
  • Ani Sava … Sister Jessica
  • Jared Morgan … Marquis
  • August Maturo … Daniel
  • Claudio Charles Schneider … Demon
  • Michael Smiley … Bishop Pasquale

Filming locations:
Principal photography for the film began on May 3, 2017, at Castel Film Studios in Bucharest, Romania. Scenes were filmed in the Palace of the Parliament building in June, for a fee of €5,000 per hour. Filming also took place at the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara and in Sighișoara, Transylvania. Principal production wrapped on June 23, 2017, after 38 days.

Production companies:
Atomic Monster/New Line Cinema/Safran Company

Running time:
96 minutes

More nasty nuns

Image credits: Warner Bros. Pictures

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