Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'The Nun' on SWITCHCast
Click here to listen to a brand new episode of Ink & Paint as Daniel discusses the groundbreaking classic 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians'!x
review, The Nun, The, Nun, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Bonnie Aarons, Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Charlotte Hope, Ingrid Bisu, Manuela Ciucur, Jonas Bloquet, Jonny Coyne, Jared Morgan, Sandra Teles, Corin Hardy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller film rating



By Jake Watt
6th September 2018

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to tonight's screening of ‘The Nun’. It is a prequel to ‘The Conjuring’, produced by the legendary James Wan and directed by... uh... you know what? I’ve forgotten who the director is!”

That introduction by the film's distributor, delivered to a packed cinema in Sydney at the preview of Corin Hardy’s ‘The Nun’, says a lot about the impersonal nature of franchise film-making. It was also an ill omen, a black cat crossing my path, a portent of bad luck in my immediate future.

We are living in the age of the expanded universe, when franchises don’t follow a single forward path, instead stretching outward in multiple directions like the gnarled branches of a creepy old tree. Billed as the latest spin-off of ‘The Conjuring’, ‘The Nun’ chronologically comes first and operates as a slap-dash brand extension, just like ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’.

In 1952, a Catholic priest, Father Burke (a tuned-out Demián Bichir, ‘Alien: Covenant’), and a novice, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, ‘The Bling Ring’), are sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at the Cârța Monastery in southern Transylvania. It’s here that they meet a French-Canadian named Frenchie (a dodgily-accented Jonas Bloquet) before coming into conflict with an infernal nun, Valak (Bonnie Aarons, ‘Mulholland Drive’), who was first introduced in ‘The Conjuring 2’. There’s also some stuff about a guy called The Duke, the Knights Templar, portals to hell and a glass egg containing the blood of Jesus Christ.


‘The Conjuring’ universe has become a clubhouse for directors of awful (but low-budget and profitable) horror films, like John R. Leonetti (‘The Butterfly Effect 2’) and David F. Sandberg (‘Lights Out’). Corin Hardy’s debut feature was ‘The Hallow’, a tiny Irish horror film that wasn’t scary, but proved that he could deliver some grotesque special effects on the cheap. It was more of a calling card than a film, but the tasteful thickness and subtle off-white colouring of that card was impressive enough to get him ‘The Nun’ gig.

Hardy includes a few nods to superior films, like a local tavern straight out of John Landis’ ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and the fog-shrouded vibe and stylised ghouls of Christophe Gans’ ‘Silent Hill’. The shotgun-wielding Frenchie is supposed to be a shout-out to Ash from ‘The Evil Dead’, but he lacks Bruce Campbell’s easy charm. The premise of ‘The Nun’ is reminiscent of Aislinn Clarke’s more interesting ‘The Devil’s Doorway’, a recent Irish film which followed two priests who are sent to a Magdalene Laundry, a Catholic home for “troubled” young women, and end up discovering a sinister evil.

As a blunt object, a machine built to put nerves on edge and fingers over eyes, is ‘The Nun’ at least crudely effective?

Fuck no!

In the lead-in to the film’s release, a short ad for ‘The Nun’ was removed from YouTube due to an unskippable jump scare that violated the platform's "Shocking Content" policies. The ad shows the Apple volume bar going left and right, before going to mute. After a second, the character Valak jump scares the viewer with a piercing roaring sound, sharp teeth and staring green eyes.

If you watched that ad, then you have seen every scare this 96-minute film has to offer.

On a lizard-brain level, ‘The Conjuring’ and its sequel tapped into the universal childhood fear of the dark, and some of its simplest moments – like a little girl describing a hideous, invisible thing crouched in the shadowiest corner of her bedroom - were its most effective, bolstered by skilfully executed sound design and Don Burgess’ gloomy cinematography.

When it comes to the scares, ‘The Nun’ is reliant on five tricks, repeated every few minutes, in an effort to keep the audience awake.

By comparison, ‘The Nun’ is aurally and visually ugly. Despite being filmed in Romania (a location used effectively in David Bruckner’s ‘The Ritual’) and Corvin Castle in Hunedoara, Hardy has his characters navigating a series of cramped, fog-obscured chambers. It’s like watching people running through a cheap haunted house at a carnival.

When it comes to the scares, ‘The Nun’ is reliant on five tricks, repeated every few minutes, in an effort to keep the audience awake:

1) Deafeningly loud music to signal when Valak is about to appear.
2) Nuns jumping out of nowhere and yelling “boo!”
3) Shadowy figures (usually nuns) materialising behind a character and then disappearing when the character turns around.
4) Doors that slowly creak open by themselves.
5) Nuns baring their teeth and hissing.

Around the halfway point, by the two dozenth or so such shock, the film loses all momentum as these tricks become achingly repetitive and telegraphed (the audience around me began to openly chuckle).

These movies are usually more effective during the escalation portion of the evening; by the last act, they all turn into ‘The Exorcist’ on steroids. This film is no different, bombarding the audience with lots of sound, fury, special effects and, in this case, a small army of nuns.

Corin Hardy can’t be assigned sole responsibility for this torpid mess of a film. A large portion of the blame should be shouldered by screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who also wrote ‘Annabelle’, ‘Annabelle: Creation’, and ‘It’. Dauberman either has a dry creative well or a grudge against the world - hilariously, he's making his directorial debut in 2019 with a new ‘Annabelle’ sequel. So that’s something to be excited about...

When ‘The Nun’ ended, the audience at my preview screening stumbled out of the cinema, concussed, bleary-eyed and murmuring. Some people were shocked at the lacklustre quality, others were yawning, a few offered vague apologies to the friends they had dragged along to watch it, and one or two were loudly questioning the authenticity of Frenchie’s accent.

Somewhat groggy myself, I had to wonder if ‘The Conjuring’, ‘Insidious’, and ‘Annabelle’ films couldn’t have been mashed together into one or two decent movies instead of spread thinly over what feels like a dozen poor-to-mediocre films (and counting...).

RELEASE DATE: 06/09/2018
RUN TIME: 1h 36m
CAST: Bonnie Aarons
Demián Bichir
Taissa Farmiga
Charlotte Hope
Ingrid Bisu
Manuela Ciucur
Jonas Bloquet
Jonny Coyne
Jared Morgan
Sandra Teles
DIRECTOR: Corin Hardy
WRITER: Gary Dauberman
Peter Safran
SCORE: Abel Korzeniowski
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'The Nun' on SWITCHCast 
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Then Came You - A life-changing journey
TRENDINGWIN THEN CAME YOUA life-changing journey
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Boss Level - Nostalgic action and quirky foes
TRENDINGBOSS LEVELNostalgic action and quirky foes
Raya and the Last Dragon - A solid return to form for Walt Disney Animation Studios
TRENDINGRAYA AND THE LAST DRAGONA solid return to form for Walt Disney Animation Studios
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
About A Boy - All grown up 15 years on
TRENDINGABOUT A BOYAll grown up 15 years on
Kristen Stewart: From 'Twilight' to Arthouse - Celebrating a career as unique as the actress herself
TRENDINGKRISTEN STEWART: FROM 'TWILIGHT' TO ARTHOUSECelebrating a career as unique as the actress herself
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge - An animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
TRENDINGMORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SCORPION'S REVENGEAn animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Endings, Beginnings - Star-studded sex drama lacks substance
TRENDINGENDINGS, BEGINNINGSStar-studded sex drama lacks substance
The High Note - A mid-tempo comedy romp
TRENDINGTHE HIGH NOTEA mid-tempo comedy romp
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale - An extremely silly zomedy
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - A charming and poignant tale of survival
TRENDINGWHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBITA charming and poignant tale of survival
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!