I’ve already done all of my THE NUN puns on social media (aka “How many scares did this movie have? Nun. And I was nun too pleased with this movie”) so I think I’m going to lead in with this: If you are laughing hysterically at a scene that is supposed to be tense and frightening because you thought the Hocus Pocus candle made a cameo in the movie (and it is near the end of the film), you know that your attention in not invested in it. So far, The Conjuring cinematic universe has really been a hit and miss, by my own personal ratio it is still 3 to 2, so it’s still in the win column, but if they keep going on as they are, it will ultimately be a shaky foundation where you might not want to visit it as often as you might think. I was not scared of this flick at all. I never once grabbed on to my seat, or tensed up when I knew a jump scare was coming. I yawned and I kept picking apart the movie beat by beat, because I had nothing else better to do.
The main problem is with the characters, albeit at least one of the actors looked like they actually wanted to be there. Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga play Father Burke and Sister Irene, who, after a guy just named “Frenchie” played by Jonas Bloquet, finds a dead nun in Romania that seems to have hung hung herself outside an old church, are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Needless to say, all isn’t what it seems as all of them encounter a demonic presence in the form of a nun. Maybe it is just me, but I’m kind of sick of the whole “demon” causing havoc horror film. The last film to do it correctly (in fact it didn’t really reveal anything demon-ish until the very last 5 minutes) was Hereditary. Had Hereditary brought the whole “demon” explanation/entity earlier in the film, I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much. Demons are now the vampires, zombies, and found footage horror films of this decade…meaning it is SOOOO PLAYED out to the point of exhaustion. But I guess what else is there? (I have a feeling the slasher film is going to come back with an untold menace and vengeance this Halloween…if you catch my drift). Anyway, horror movies need a new ace up its sleeve, because everybody at the table wants to boot the demon asshole out of there.
There have also been too many movies this past decade and a half relying on religion to be scary. I’m not really a religious person, but to me trying to making it scary is tiring as hell, as I’m not too big a fan of exorcism movies either. If exploring the dark themes of religion is scary to you, then this film might be right up your alley. But let’s talk about the real problems of the film. The acting is downright terrible and I suspect that it is because the actors didn’t have much to work with as all the characters are two dimensional and are way past boredom. We’ve seen great things come out of Demian Bichir, but playing Father Burke seemed like he was doing the studio a favor. A solemn expression the whole time, he doesn’t really shred of tear of true emotion here (especially during a sticky situation I would have been crying my eyes out over), and is waiting for the shoot to be over. Taissa Farmiga I think was hired based on the fact that she can open here eyes extremely wide for insurmountable passages of time and the producers thought that shocked look was good enough for that character. And Jonas Bloquet, the guys who plays “Frenchie,” I think was the only one that was flattered that he won the role, as he is the one that has the most charisma and has the most emotion, even though his character is gone a good chunk of the film, and until the end, doesn’t have all that much to do. Plus, in the finale, they have him holding a shotgun, wearing old suspenders, and going down dark tunnels that I thought for a moment we were watching dailies from The Mummy with Brendan Fraser.
The movie doesn’t have that much of a story. It’s a demonic presence that got out of hell and took the form of a nun. That is it. It tries to bring about story beats like a crack in the ground and Jesus Christ’s blood at some point in the plot but I think it was just stretching a story to the brink of collapse…because they really had nothing but the scary nun idea in the first place. The movie also has no balls. There was a part where I thought a character was gone not even half way through the movie, and gone in a cool frightening way, but the character is saved in the most bizarre and ridiculous fashion. The movie starts out pretty well, it has one of those nice slow burn quality feels to it. I was thinking about 20 minutes into it that if it kept this up the whole way through we’d have a nice little horror treat on our hands. But nope, once things start halfway through, they try to throw every cookie cutter, cheap jump scare plus the kitchen sink with every 5 seconds that passed with no room to breathe. The finale is what I just described on steroids.
Is there something else I can actually compliment about this film? While there are a couple of shaky CGI issues throughout the film, there are mostly really well done make up and special effects, and some of the scenery, cinematography, and tone is handled really well. But the rest of it just plummets into mediocre (almost disaster level) oblivion. You have already made up your mind before this review if you are going to see this, and most of you already have, considering the excellent box office opening weekend it just had. But I have a feeling that the attendance ratio is going to plummet on this fast once audiences truly understand the mediocrity before their eyes. Understand the cover up that is taking place with the cheap factory floor produced scares. At first there were many, but then a short time passes, and then there were nun.
Ranking of The Conjuring Universe Films:
1. The Conjuring
2. The Conjuring 2
3. Annabelle Creation
4. The Nun