Direction: Corin Hardy
Cast: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloque
Duration: 1 hr 36 min
Set in 1952 and placed in Romania, this The Conjuring prequel has a Catholic priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir), being assigned by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at the CârÈÂ a Monastery. A novice nun, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), joins him in his quest, as does a handsome rake “Frenchie” (Jonas Bloquet), who at first flirts with Irene and later becomes a quasi-Indiana Jones like figure, spouting one-liners, opening dungeons and killing demons with equal ease.
The latest trend in Hollywood is to make cinematic universes and then cash-in on their popularity till kingdom come. The Conjuring turned into Annabelle and now we have this prequel as well. Marvel or DC can keep adding members to their superhero teams, they can even go for complete overhauls and keep engaging the viewers in newer ways each time. The problem with replicating the same formula in a horror universe is that you can only use a set number of tricks when it comes to scaring people. You kill their power with over-familiarity. Another classic rule of horror is that less is more. You set up the atmosphere, keep showing us glimpses of the evil haunting the protagonists and then scare us shitless with a big reveal. But director Corin Hardy certainly doesn’t subscribe to this sane idea. He has put every horror movie trope there is in the film. So you have a floating nun popping up every ten minutes to scare you, there are inverted crosses, creepy crawlies coming out of orifices, undead people showing up, tortured nuns praying feverishly, an exorcist filled with guilt over an exorcism gone wrong, visions guiding people to safety and because we’re in Romania, a creature which looks like a bat out if hell making the briefest of cameos. After a while, you kind of stop counting.
Another reason The Conjuring worked because it was set in the real world. You got scared because you saw strange things happening to normal people. Here, the pseudo Gothic setting kind of puts you off Not that a Gothic setting is a bad idea. It has its own charm but has to be milked properly. Director Hardy, however lacks the patience and makes a hash of it.
Taissa Farmiga would make for a nice Princess Leia if they ever cast her Star Wars franchise. The big-eyed beauty is the best thing about the film, showing both vulnerability and strength in equal measure but even her heroic efforts aren’t enough to save the film.
The Nun is like a Ramsay Brothers film with better production values. Even the Ramsay’s never churned out this level of drivel in the name of horror.