Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Nun

Movie Name: The Nun
Year of Release: 2018
Director: Corin Hardy
Stars: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, Sandra Teles, David Horovitch
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
View Trailer

Synopsis & Review:
As "The Conjuring" universe keeps expanding, different releases featuring characters from that series pop up in order to maintain the franchise alive. Following "The Conjuring 1 and 2" and the "Annabelle" films, "The Nun" is another offshoot from that series which is being shepherded by director James Wan, with directing duties being assigned to different professionals. "The Nun" introduces us to a monastery in Romania, where a dark entity is plaguing the nuns that inhabit it. Following a gruesome suicide from one of the nuns, a priest experienced in the paranormal is sent to that remote region, with a young nun as his apprentice/help. Once in Romania, both Father Burke and Sister Irene, find the help of a local guide, a French-Canadian expat, with the nickname of Frenchie. He promptly drops them by the monastery, where the supernatural events immediately start occurring, testing the faith, resources and sheer survival skills from both Father Burke and Sister Irene.
What has been largely successful in the offerings of this particular universe, has been the ability from James Wan, to build horror/suspense, which builds progressively, allowing for the characters to exist and create a bridge with the viewers, before introducing elements that are supernatural. He also smartly plays a stylistic ploy, which places the films squarely in the decade they take place, something that his strong casts usually play off remarkably well. The offshoots of the main films have had mixed results. If the first "Annabelle" was a miss, last year's sequel was a vast improvement. "The Nun" from Corin Hardy, is another step back in terms of quality. The film is successful in conveying a sense of remoteness and isolation, but is too intent in showcasing the supernatural angle of the locale, something that removes the subtlety that has been a key offering of the more successful films of this series. There's also a visual and stylistic tone throughout the film that is very disconnected - there's a contextualization throughout the narrative that alludes the story takes place after WWII, but the mix of production design, digital effects and real effects, never quite gels, making the film feel amateurish in certain sections and hard to pin point when the action is actually occurring (according to the timeline of "The Conjuring" it would be the 1960s). The actors sadly don't have much to do, with Demian Bichir playing a priest who carries the guilt of a failed case (but who has little else to do) and the young Taissa Farmiga, playing Sister Irene, a strong and resourceful heroine, who tries her best to overcome these challenges, but whose story never gets properly investigated. What has made "The Conjuring" films successful, is the fact that they are stories of every day people battling extraordinary events - these offshoots try to be more about the supernatural entities, making the human element of the stories secondary. Time for James Wan and his creative team to put their lessons from "The Conjuring" into practice and hopefully elevate the creative results from these endeavors.