The Nun tells the story of a young sister’s apparent suicide at a remote abbey in the hills of Romania which Father Burke (Demian Bichir), a priest with experience in exorcism, and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a naïve novitiate with the “gift” of premonitions, are implored by the Vatican to investigate. With the help of a witty local, “Frenchie” (Jonas Bloquet), the two uncover the secret that a demonic force, referred to in myth as Valak, had been trapped beneath the abbey, until now. Stalking the corridors in the form of a nun (first seen as the villain of The Conjuring 2 ), Valek’s demon spirit begins to leak out to the nearby village, where its inhabitants are picked off one-by-one in “mysterious circumstances”.
Being a die-hard fan of the Conjuring franchise, my anticipation for the newest installment was through the roof as I took my seat in the cinema. After waiting just over two years to finally learn the genesis of without a doubt the most haunting of horror-movie villains, I felt underwhelmed and, quite frankly, cheated when the credits appeared two hours later.
The movie feels rushed and, at times, ill-thought through; failing to act on the promising premise left behind by writers of the previous Conjuring and Annabelle (2014 and 2017). I expected a more captivating narrative behind how the demonic sister, Valak (Bonnie Aaron) came to be, and though a prequel, the link between The Nun and the earlier movies of James Wan’s fantastic series is disappointingly weak.
In spite of this, credit is certainly due to the special effects of The Nun. Bonnie Aaron’s leering and sinister portrayal of Valak is enough to haunt even the bravest of souls, however in combination with the incredible make-up, costumes and CGI, she is truly able to make this demon the stuff of nightmares. Though the skilled cast, chilling special effects and undeniably unsettling aesthetic of The Nun are not quite enough to mask its far-fetched narrative, there is no doubt that this movie puts the ‘terror’ in terrifying.
Image: Martin Maguire