Directed by Corin Hardy
Starring Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet
Credit (or blame?) the Marvel Cinematic Universe for introducing the concept of individual films as moving parts of a wider world. The MCU was the first to market its superhero movies as chapters you cannot skip, and now the practice of manipulating the audience’s sense of FOMO—that’s Fear of Missing Out to you non-millennials—has crossed over into venerated brands like Star Wars and Lego. And thanks to The Conjuring, an infernal toy chest brimming with possessed dolls, crooked phantom men, and other prequel/sequel possibilities, it has seeped into horror movies as well.
The Nun is the fifth movie in the dark universe of The Conjuring, and it purports to explain the origins of the memorable spectre Valak from the second Conjuring movie. Valak works as a horror movie construct because it takes a figure that we would usually trust—a kindly nun—and turns it into something evil. (It’s the same reason why pedophilic priests are so bone-penetratingly horrifying.) Alas, it turns out that, for the same reason that Valak loses its demonic power once you know its name, The Nun loses its potency the more it reveals.
A priest (Bichir) dispatched by the Vatican to investigate supernatural occurrences teams up with a novice (Farmiga) to probe the hanging death of a nun in a secluded and creepy abbey in Romania (in Transylvania, natch). Joining them for the ride is a town yokel nicknamed Frenchie (Bloquet), who confesses that he’s actually French-Canadian with the same reluctance one would reserve for admitting to a third nipple. The Nun aims for full-strength Gothic horror, with its dank passages and hellish gateways, but really it’s just a series of jump scares looking for a substantial plotline. The scariest thing about The Nun is how forgettable it is.
Photographs from IMDB