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Horror film The Nun may bore you to death

Photo Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Photo Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Alex Gonzales, Staff Editor

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The Nun, the fifth installment of the popular horror film series The Conjuring, opened up with 53.5 million in sales, making it the second biggest opening for a September release in North America. Directed by Corin Hardy, The film is a prequel, primarily serving to answer questions posed by The Conjuring 2. The Conjuring film series, originally introduced by popular horror writer and director James Wan, has been mostly turned over to others and clearly suffers for it. Compared to its predecessors, the sequel has few redeeming qualities.

The story follows Father Burke, played by Demian Bichir and Sister Irene, played by Taissa Farmiga (known for her roles in American Horror Story), who are sent by the Vatican to investigate the sudden suicide of a nun at the Carta Monastery. As the story unfolds they delve deeper into the unholy truth behind a malevolent force which begins to appear in the form of a demonic nun.

The Nun’s first sin is that it offers little in terms of plausibility. The Conjuring movies, first engaged audiences by pitching their plots as stories based on the “true” experiences of supernatural investigators Ed and Loraine Warren. Yet, The Nun doesn’t feel like it belongs in the real world at all, or at least, not our world. What made other Conjuring films so terrifying is that average people saw their mundane, daily lives shattered by a confrontation with the supernatural. That crucial element is missing from The Nun, which places a priest and a sister in the position of the main protagonists. Most viewers will find it hard to relate to these characters, and the appearance of ghosts or demons simply isn’t as jarring in this context. From there, it’s a case of writers gone wild. Wan and screenplay writer Gary Dauberman try to spin a new universe of good versus evil oddly reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, but without the talent of Tolkien. There are no rules or reason behind why some things happen and others don’t. It’s just ridiculous, and the audience knows it.

The film fails even further in its effort to provide an origin story for the evil forces behind attacks at the monastery. What makes some of the best horror stories so successful is that they target our fear of the unknown. In the best Conjuring films, we know little or nothing about the supernatural threats, so anything is possible and our minds often entertain possibilities more disturbing than any writer could imagine. The Nun goes to great lengths to explain where the evil spirit came from, then over explain,and explain again, until we don’t really care anymore. We only grow to know the evil character’s limitations and eventually realize she’s not much of a force to be reckoned with at all. In fact, the nun is so easily defeated, it leaves us wondering why anyone was worried about her in the first place.

The only saving grace of this film is its eery, gothic mise en scene. Cinematographer Maxine Alexandre’s talents are far too good for this film.  The use of moody color schemes, evocative camera angles, and dramatic lighting are the only thing worth watching here. It is a shame for the film to set up such visually lush scenes only to ruin them with pathetic characters and a lazy plot.

Compared to its relatives, The Nun is just another horror cash-grab lacking in both originality and scares. The Nun currently has a 5.7/10 on IMDb and 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s definitely not worth spending money to see it on the big screen. If you just can’t resist the temptation of streaming it for a few bucks later on, just remember, I tried to save you from 96 minutes of hellish boredom.

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Horror film The Nun may bore you to death