Where do I even begin…
The Nun is, chronologically, the first film in The Conjuring Universe. I would like it noted that I hate that The Conjuring Universe is a thing. The Conjuring was a fantastic film based on the ghost stories told by Ed and Lorraine Warren. It does not, however, warrant an entire universe of films around it.
There are a number of problems with this film, pacing being one of the biggest ones. The run time of The Nun is only 96 minutes, but it felt like I was in the theater for nearly two hours. That’s not good. Tonally, the story was all over the place. The film didn’t know if it wanted to be supernatural or if it wanted to be a monster movie or if it wanted to be psychological. So, that was incredibly frustrating. It also felt that, even though things were clearly happening on screen, nothing really story-wise was happening. Character development was completely nonexistent.
I want to mention my frustration with casting. Why in the world would you cast Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene when, story-wise, there’s no relation between Sister Irene and Lorraine Warren, who is played by Vera Farmiga, Taissa’s older sister? Both characters are clairvoyant. They now look nearly identical because somebody in casting made that decision. YET, not once was some connection made between the two characters. It just seems so wasted. Not to mention, (and I’m going to chalk this up to the fault of the director, Corin Hardy) Taissa’s acting in this film was horrible. It’s such a shame, because she is a good actress. But, there’s a moment early on in the film where the character of Sister Irene laughs and it was one of the worst acting performances I have ever seen. Honestly. It was rough. And it seemed to be downhill from there.
My other big frustration stems from the characters in this film just not thinking. They don’t use their brains. Nothing upsets me more in a horror film when characters don’t act rationally, or don’t act realistically. (I’m going to say a brief spoiler here. Sorry, I was trying to avoid it.) For example, the background provided for Father Burke is that he performed an exorcism on a child who was then badly hurt, and ultimately died three days later. Okay. Now, jump ahead, honestly, not more than ten minutes, and Father Burke sees this child. He then proceeds to follow said child, calling out to him. Father Burke has just told us and Sister Irene that this little boy had died. Why in the world would you follow what you think is this child? It just doesn’t make any sense. Not to mention, that whole part of the story was just useless. Father Burke could have just been tormented by the woman he assumed was the Mother Superior of that creepy Abbey for the first half of the film. Hell, she was much creepier than that child.
Speaking of creepy, we all know that this is a horror film. Somebody please tell me why the decision was made to use the most promising scare of the film in the trailer so that the entire audience knew it was coming? The Nun is filled with nothing but jump scares, which is not uncommon for The Conjuring films. The biggest jump scare, the best scare they have in the film is the one that all of us saw at the end of the trailer for the film. It’s a massive disappointment.
Honestly, the way this film was shown to fit into The Conjuring Universe (again, a term that I hate), just wasn’t satisfying. There wasn’t a moment of “aha”, like, for example, in the last Final Destination film. I’m not saying that’s a great film, at all. I am saying that the way the end of that film circled back to the first Final Destination film was deeply satisfying. And, The Nun was lacking that satisfaction. The actual connection to The Conjuring felt forced and felt like a last minute thought.
All in all, this film was greatly disappointing. It doesn’t even fall under the category of “Good bad horror” or “Fun bad horror”. I will say that I did learn that nuns apparently lay face down on the floor when taking their vows (I literally Googled that once I left the theater because the scene was so weird). So, I guess I took something away from the film. Unfortunately, that something was the practices of actual nuns and it was completely irrelevant to the rest of the film.