The Conjuring franchise is one of those guilty pleasures where the devout following it has even includes me. As a paranormal investigator, I always like to watch these films to see what the Hollywood hive mind gets wrong. When it is bad, I will sound off and explain why. When it’s good, I will heavily recommend it. Enter The Nun, a spinoff which explores the origins of this series’s most frightening apparitions. In this case, it’s the ghostly Nun who delights in scaring the bejesus of the uninitiated.
According to this film, it’s just one form the demon Valak likes to take, and he’s been cloistered for a long time! Being trapped in a convent is enough reason to make him pissed. When the pure of heart is the only way to keep this evil at bay, just what else can he do? He can make their lives a living hell, and with the sisterhood sanity dwindling fast, eventually he will be free. Or so we thought.
If only this film told this story from the creature’s perspective, I’d be preaching the almighty hallahuah! The heroes always have to be good and so must it conquer the terrible forces from the Abyss. Dante’s version of Hell doesn’t cut it; it’s too filled with Christian elements. True terror comes from no particular culture.
Although this series of films is curated from the experiences from Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband-wife team of Catholic Paranormal Investigators, some details are best left out. Not all accounts of supernatural terror are influenced by spirituality (pardoning the pun).
Fiction finally took over in detailing the cinematic origins of the Annabelle doll and where The (Ghostly) Nun came from. The back story is quite chilling and is certainly the material expected out of a Hammer horror film. In 1952 Romania, when a sister from Cârța Monastery is found dead (hanged) by the local food supplier and this news spreads, the Vatican has to find out what’s going on. In the meta context, they know, and they’re afraid, deathly afraid. They send Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and young novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate, and what they learn is the stuff of nightmares.
But locals talk. Frenchie is the poor boy who has to bring goods to the castle, and he’s the only guy brave enough to do what’s right—to help Burke and Irene. He brings a simple charm and is the muscle to this film.
The beautiful cinematography gives this work a sweet sense of foreboding atmosphere. The set the production team found looks like it belongs in Dracula film! I love movies that play with mist and “cabin in the woods” scenario. The performances are just as strong. A feeling of The Exorcist meets The Wicker Man exists in this work. The only difference is this film deals with spiritual horror than folk. The question of faith is somewhat explored, and to see Irene rise to the challenge gives this work a decent plot. The backstory to when the castle was built would have been just as terrific to follow along. To see the Middle Ages deal with evil is a lot more interesting to explore, so long as Nicolas Cage does not get involved.
4 Stars out of 5
You can find Ed on twitter looking for spooky things in all the spooky places.