The Nun takes a weird turn in its third act as our heroes follow various clues toward a holy relic that will supposedly save them, when an encroaching Indiana Jones vibe starts to clash with what the rest of the movie tries to do. Theres also a terribly clunky reveal in the vein of swing away, Merrill in the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs. This final act is predicated on something Father Burke says: Theres a time for prayer and a time for action. This is a time for action, which I cant help but read as a denunciation ofthe thoughts and prayers frontof Americas current culture war.
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In the end, The Nuns most gripping scenes relate to that as well–as far as Sister Irene is able to discover, the Cârța Monasterys nuns are trapped in a constant vigil, forced to pray in continuous, overlapping shifts to keep the demon at bay. As Valak grows stronger, their prayers grow less effective, until Irene finds herself in very real danger with no means of defense against evil. Thats when the action really begins.
Although The Nun can be inconsistent, silly, and predictable, its also terrifying and atmospheric, with a great monster, phenomenal setting, and likable characters youll never stop rooting for. It doesnt quite hit the highs of The Conjuring 1 and 2, but its definitely a fun, scary ride that horror fans will enjoy.
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The Nun hits theaters today. Check out our review below if you want to know whether its worth seeing–unless youre too scared, of course. Then check outthe scariest nuns in horror movie history, how The Nun fits intothe connected Conjuring universe, the full history behindthe demonic nun known as Valak, andwhether it has an after-credits scene–plus the ending explained.
Its not all tropes. The Nuns rules are wishy-washy–within the confines of this movie and with the larger Conjuring universe. But that gives it freedom to be whatever it wants from scene to scene, as well. Entire stretches turn out to be hallucinations, delusions, or dreams; sometimes the demon can affect the physical world, and other times its all psychological. Sister Irene is anything but helpless, while Jonas Bloquets character Frenchie–part action hero and part comic relief–gets to deliver one of the goofiest and best one-liners in recent memory. It all blends together to make a funny, super terrifying movie that works despite its inconsistencies.
But The Nun embraces all horror tropes, not just that one. Its tributes and homages to past horror movies are countless. Theres the hyper masculine alpha priest, Father Burke, played by Demin Bichir, and his companion, the virginal, white-clad nun-in-training Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who travel together at the Vaticans behest to investigate a suicide at a remote Romanian convent. There are exorcisms and jump scares, crosses flipping upside-down, moving shadows and demons in mirrors, pentagram-shaped gashes slashed by invisible claws into pious, white flesh.
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The setting is a large part of that. Theres something deeply unsettling about The Nuns Cârța Monastery, a dark, sprawling heap of cobblestones, statues, and tombs where the candles are always fitfully flickering, but no ones ever home. The places geography is never fully established, which adds to the disorientation as Farther Burke, Irene, and Frenchie run around chasing/fleeing from various demonic apparitions.
The Nun herself–AKA the demon Valak, as established in previous Conjuring movies–is also quite scary. Shes a constant presence, whether shes flitting by in the background or baring her splintery teeth in full, feral terror. She especially loves to appear directly behind people or at the opposite ends of long, shadow hallways. That the movies laborious exposition dumps and backstory explanations dont detract from these scares is a testament to the fundamental effectiveness of the Nun as a movie monster.
Some of the funnier dialogue can seem out of place, although the movies funnier moments often serve as welcome reprieve from the tension. There are also some weird tacked on clips from other Conjuring movies at the beginning and end–they ensure you dont need to be caught up on the series to enjoy The Nun, but they also blow the creatures reveal in the first 10 seconds, ruining any build-up the movie might have made toward it. And these awkwardly inserted clips make explicit a connection to the first Conjuring movie that fans would easily have figured out anyway, which suggests a mistrust in the audiences ability to put two and two together.
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The Nun Review: Thoughts And Prayers With Teeth
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Theres a single rule that could save the protagonists of horror movies a whole lot of trouble: If a demon, ghost, or otherwise evil/otherworldly antagonist is very clearly trying to lure you somewhere, run the other direction. The characters in The Nun are painfully unaware of that general rule, which makes for some admittedly great scares in the latest entry in the Conjuring universe. It also helps make The Nun just a little bit goofy–chances are, the fifth time the brave but hapless Father Burke gets lured down a dark hallway or into a spooky graveyard, it might elicit a laugh rather than the dreadful trepidation that was likely intended.