THE NUN - Review : DJ MACK

As the fifth instalment in the franchise's wider universe is released, The Conjuring has proven that not only superheroes can prove lucrative to Hollywood, with Corin Hardy's The Nun continuing the evolve the supernatural horror series first birthed with the creation of James Wan's original film in 2013. Deriving from a character that first featured in the 2015 sequel, The Nun is a prequel introducing us to the antagonists' satanic roots and her deliverance from evil. Unfortunately, it's rather awful.
In 1952 Romania, following an attack on two Roman Catholic nuns by an unseen force that leads to the death of one and the suicide of one, The Vatican summons Father Burke to Rome and sends him to investigate the situation. Accompanied by a nun in her novitiate, Sister Irene, the two travel to Romania and meet Frenchie, a villager who discovered by the hanging body. They soon enter the abbey and discover a sinister presence lurking within. Incoherent and ineffective, The Nun squanders an impressively-solid atmosphere and strands a decent-enough cast in an insipid, unimaginative horror that relies too much on cheap jump scare tactics and the strength of its wider cinematic universe to justify itself. With eye-rolling developments and half-decent set pieces very few and very far between, the latest instalment in The Conjuring Universe is an incredibly dull affair. Gone is any sense of emotional weight or genuine stakes in favour of a mindless exercise in money-making that dilutes the prospects of the series, continuing to assert the prequel chapters as genre pieces devoid of terrifying thrills of subversive scares: it's all so predictable and, as such, frustrating and unnecessary.
Gary Dauberman's screenplay is a chaotic shambles of nothingness, with plot almost entirely absent with very little substance found throughout. It throws some half-hearted ideas at the wall but it never sticks: it is all so disjointed and no one is strong enough to assemble the fragments. We don't feel connected to the characters like we are to The Conjuring's Warrens either, lacking in our sympathies as they are forced to wander around foggy, dimly-lit corridors, most likely in search of the plot themselves. It's endlessly ticking boxes off a genre checklist, leaving little room for creativity or vision. In a year that has provided us with the likes of A Quiet Place and Hereditary, horror shouldn’t be this bland. Corin Hardy manages to convey a Gothic atmosphere that is benefited by the solid production design - but there's nothing else of any note here. Its palette is drained of all colour and shade, unnecessarily drab and dreary; countless other genre films have proven that you can still produce striking imagery with a more muted colour scheme, but that is seemingly the one area The Nun doesn't feel it imperative to borrow from similar films. Senselessly derivative jump scares cheapen the cast's efforts, with their frequency lessening in their impact to the point where you feel wholly numb to the whole experience. Obscenely few of the scares register, pathetically repetitive even at a scrawny 97 minutes, with the overbearing soundtrack limiting the potentially robust moments, including the climactic moment which is almost passable. Almost. It takes itself far too seriously to be productive and is saying so little that it cannot sustain itself.
A handful of fine performance cannot elevate The Nun to respectable heights. Taissa Farmiga is a grounding presence and she convinces you of her own fear, but is unable to make that felt by the audience who are forced through the rigmarole and able to see what is about to occur ages before she can. Demian Bichir mutters a bit and mummers some more but to little effect while Jonas Bloquet is utilised as the comedic relief and sheds some much-needed lightness on the film. The Nun is a depressingly basic, entirely lacklustre experience that not only disappoints in the moment but may induce negative repercussions for the wider Conjuring Universe, if they find no way of escaping what appears to be the curse of the prequel chapters. Far too concerned with making money than delivering an effectively chilling instalment for one of the series most prominent villains, The Nun does little well and it becomes increasingly, crushingly duller by the minute. Devoid of thrills or terror, Corin Hardy's barrel-scrapping franchise instalment is a visually and tonally inert affair that works against the overall series, with seemingly little effort put in to recapture the series' highlights. The Nun is complete and utter nunsense.

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