The Nun Review: A Solid by-the-numbers Horror With a Great Atmospheric Setting

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This week it was The Nun, 2018’s addition to The Conjuring Universe.  I’ve never seen any of the Conjuring movies except Annabelle: Creation but man, was this thing every popular.  The theater was almost packed. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t like it, 27% at the time this was written. But I have to say I had a good time watching The Nun.  I liked it more than, perhaps, it deserved. It was scary and occasionally funny and just long enough.

the nun review

A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.


The thing I liked best about The Nun was its atmosphere.  It took place almost entirely in this gorgeous castle slash monastery and it was set in the 1950s, so the technology wasn’t quite there either.  You had people walking around with candles and, when they were really serious, torches. So you had all these wonderful stone rooms decorated with crosses like it was owned by a hoarder with a religious obsession.  It made for a wonderful setting, and the makers of this film did not let that go to waste. I tell you, gothic Nun-Castles are a pretty good place to set a horror film.

the NUN review 1

It was nice to see that there actually was a way for people to fight back in The Nun.  Even though it wasn’t working particularly well, Religion did have an effect. You could banish something, or drive it off, with relics and prayers (provided it didn’t kill you first).   This didn’t stop the horror though, didn’t even slow it down. There was a lot of suspense and, unfortunately, jump scares. But it seemed to work, mostly, though occasionally the horror was over the top and became a bit silly.  People laughed during this film and I couldn’t decide whether it was nervous laughter or amusement at how ridiculous things occasionally got. It could have been either.

I liked the acting.  Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga were both great as a priest and a soon-to-be nun battling an evil they were not prepared for.  Jonas Bloquet was good too as ‘Frenchie’, a handsome comic relief character. No fan service. But I liked their characters. The writing was good – everyone had something they needed to do and a reason for doing it.  It was well paced. And, (looking at you here, Slenderman), it didn’t try to fill every second with horror. Instead it took breaks, the scariness ebbed and flowed, which worked much better.

So is The Nun worth watching?  Yes, maybe. Though I might not worry about it unless you’re already a fan of the series and trying to collect the whole set.  But if you do watch it, you won’t be disappointed, it’s good fun. It’s a solid, if by-the-numbers horror film that gets a bit campy at times but it’s a good way to spend a couple hours.

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