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Review: The Nun

Like a Xerox copy of a copy of a copy, The Nun feels like the spinoff of a sequel of an ever-growing horror franchise that it is. The film aims to expand of the story of Valak, the demon-nun from "The Conjuring 2." While James Wan, who launched The Conjuring Cinematic Universe, is not in the director's chair his influence is all over this mess.

In the director's chair is Corin Hardy who has clearly studied Wan's impeccable sense of jump-scare timing but unfortunately can't replicate it. The Nun features the same camera-pan to reveal something scary over and over again until it reduces the work of Wan to nothing more than a formula. This is unfortunate because there is something Hammer-esque to the film's setting.

Set in the Abbey of St. Carta in rural Romania, the film follows Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and young Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they investigate the suicide of a nun at the Abbey. I find it odd that despite how much Taissa Farmiga looks like her older sister from the Conjuring films, no attempt is made to connect the two characters. Of course, when the two arrive they quickly find lots of bump-in-the-night action. They meet a delivery man who found the body of the dead nun who is nicknamed Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) and soon realize that the demon nun has plans for them.

Over the 96 minute runtime, The Nun rarely lets these characters act like semi-intelligent, normal people. The actions that these characters take routinely make little sense. This is of course in service of the jump scares but it robs the film of anything compelling. The Conjuring films have often focused on strong characters, The Warrens for example. This has always helped the films to be more than a horror funhouse. The Nun is neither fun nor all that scary.

While I appreciate the humor that Bloquet brings to his performance, his character is wasted. He seems driven only by his lust for the young Sister Irene, risking his life for her over and over again. You almost want to yell at the screen, "Dude, you don't stand a chance." Farmiga is good here but is rarely given anything to do other than look scared. From the recycled scare tactics to the Faberge egg with Christ's blood in it, The Nun is a dreadful affair minus the dread. Luckily the film doesn't introduce a new demon for yet another uninspired spinoff.



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