The Nun is directed by Corin Hardy, written by Gary Dauberman and James Wan, produced by Peter Safran and Wan and stars Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga and Jonas Bloquet. It is the fifth feature length entry into the Conjuring Franchise, which follows Marvel, D.C. and the like as a cinematic universe. Unlike Marvel and D.C. however, the Conjuring franchise is not based on pre-existing material.
Before I say anything more, I would like to make clear that I am judging this film based on its aesthetics and as a horror movie, not as a religious movie. Though I am not a Christian, Christian ideas and motifs are okay as long as the movie is good and the ideas taught are not hateful.
Thankfully, no hateful ideas are taught, and the story is solid. After a nun (Charlotte Hope) is unable to escape a building and hangs herself to get away from some unseen force. Her body is found and a priest (Bichir), a woman soon to become a nun (Farmiga) and a farmer, who had a vision/nightmare, (Bloquet) go to investigate.
Without a doubt, this film has some good aesthetics. The visual darkness of the film successfully delivers a feeling of horror to the audience. Smoke shows that something is amiss. These elements, combined with a basic color scheme, create an ugly look that provides discomfort to viewers. There are many good-looking shots, from one of light shining through trees, to a long shot of the three main characters looking into a room with well framed coffins, to some impressive panoramas and an odd angle that establishes a scary feeling. Sometimes, a blue colored shot successfully provokes misery. There are even some cool shots that arrive too late in the film for me to mention here.
The performances are fine. Nothing great, and the line delivery was underwhelming at times, but nothing was bad enough to detract from the film. The two moments of acting I did find above average were a delivery by a shrouded woman (Bonnie Aarons) a closeup of a horrified Farmiga’s face.
My feelings on the score are mixed. It had a lot of great moments but too often was there a build up to a predictable jump scare or sounding generic.
Predictable jump scares and being generic are, in fact, two of the greatest weaknesses of this film. While there are times when the film looks like it’s about to have a jump scare but doesn’t, and one time when the film doesn’t look like it will have a jump scare but does. The predictable scares outnumbered the times when I thought I would receive a jump scare but didn’t and the time I didn’t think I would receive a jump scare but did. In one scene, an obvious scare ruined a rising ambient score I liked, in another, a predictable scare was accompanied by a surprising lack of music, and one scare was in the trailer.
As for the generics, there were multiple twists I found predictable cliché, one which is commonly used even outside of the horror genre. Combine that with the fact that the climax and one shot felt like they could come from any other movie; a great number of scenes could come from another horror movie. In turn, much of the movie can be seen from a mile away. If you watch horror movies, you should know that there are a few points that surprise me. Admittedly, there were some points that caught me off guard, but were seemingly few and far between compared to those that I could see coming.
There are a few other complaints I have. At first, I couldn’t tell if I was watching a trailer. There’s some red colored liquid that is clearly colored water meant to look like blood. Despite some people being from the Vatican and most of the film taking place in Romania, people conveniently speak English. Speaking of Romania, one would imagine that Cold War politics should come into play, as Romania was a Soviet country at the time. One shot was obviously taken from a tripod. Despite the film being set in the 50s, the costumes and production design make it look like it was set in the 1600s or 1700s. They look impressive but don’t match the time when the film is supposed to take place. Either the priest or the nun says, “Oh my God,” something neither a priest nor a nun would say due to the church’s rules against using God’s name in vain. Some point of view shots are misleading, as they don’t take place where the character actually is.
The deciding factor for whether I would recommend this film to you is its repetitiveness. Though the film has some interesting touches, too much of the film is the main characters searching around in a dark place. This works fine in the first half hour but gets old after that. The Nun may have worked best as a short film, in other words.
Cal Sylvia can be contacted at