A Catholic priest and novitiate confront the evil forces of Valak - but will they make it out alive?
For all the noise, build-up and controversial advertisements surrounding The Nun, it’s a shame Corin Hardy’s gothic supernatural horror doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
The fifth instalment in 'The Conjuring Universe' franchise (alongside The Conjuring and Annabelle films), the film holds much promise as it aims to delve deeper into the demonic nun named Valak that we first glimpsed in The Conjuring 2.
The plot follows Father Burke (Demian Bichir), a Catholic priest with a penchant for exorcisms, and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), an English novitiate (a 'nun in training') armed with powerful visions, who have been enlisted by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at a sheltered abbey in 1950s Romania.
It's not long before the pair rope in another recruit, a local farmer - affectionately dubbed 'Frenchie' (Jonas Bloquet) - who stumbled across the deceased nun, and the trio reverts to the Carta Monastery where the hanging occurred to try and find some answers - only to be enveloped in Valak’s unholy, malevolent force.
By the most part, a horror should be judged on its ability to evoke fear, and while the premise of the plot certainly holds this potential, the reality does not live up. Being honest, the film just isn't that scary.
Suspense is certainly created - a scene involving Father Burke trapped underground in the nearby cemetery and ringing a gravestone bell to alert his friends to his demise is excellently eerie; the tinkling of the bell against the backdrop of the dead of night holds great promise.
Hardy also has some great tools to play with, mostly in the form of Valak’s uber-creepy iconography and a gorgeous mediaeval castle set in real-life Transylvania.
But both the plot, written by Annabelle's Gary Dauberman, and the characters - the majority of which, namely Valak, are sorely underdeveloped - seem only to be recycling what other great horrors have attempted in the past.
After all, there are a limited number of times a dark figure lurking in the window or at the end of a corridor will make you jump.
Perhaps the bar has been set too high - following the commercial and critical successes of 2013's The Conjuring and its 2016 direct sequel, directed by James Wan and focusing on the 'real life' investigations of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, those interested in watching The Nun likely have high expectations.
Sadly, in reality, it's too much of a cliche and too little of a fright and you can’t help leaving the cinema feeling somewhat deflated.
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