When I was growing up, my mother would shake my mattress in the morning forcing me to attend 6:00 o'clock mass. Being a devout Catholic her whole life, she felt that it was necessary that I carry the same faith. I'd groan as we sat in the pews of the Church. As a teenager I was filled with all sorts of angst and church was the last place I wanted to be especially when I valued my sleep. To her dismay, I didn't follow through with her regiment which I'm sure led to her disappointment. In my young brain, I just couldn't fathom why I was being forced to accept a religion I was too young to even understand or accept without fully exploring other avenues. I was the exact opposite of my Catholic mother. I never went to Sunday school. I didn't have a communion. And I've never prayed--well--unless you count the times where I'd kneel at the foot of my bed praying to everything that my report card didn't get me grounded...
In 2013, the Conjuring franchise was born and created a new terrifying look on supernatural horror films. The film depicts the journey of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who had been assisting those who experience supernatural occurrences. In the 70's, the Warrens are summoned to the home of the Perron Family who have been under siege from unseen forces. Terrifying audiences everywhere, the hit film directed by my hero James Wan put the Conjuring franchise on the map and brought a new terror to supernatural horror films. Upon its' release, I knew that James Wan had another story to tell us that would inevitably lead us to future films.
Following the success of the 2013 film, the Conjuring 2 hit theaters the summer of 2016. The film follows the case of the Enfield Poltergeist. Ed and Lorraine depart for Enfield, London to investigate the dark forces that have invaded the household of the Hodgson Family. Prior to their arrival, Lorraine Warren begins to see visions of a demonic Nun. This film put Valak on the map as being one of the most terrifying supernatural characters today which has lead to this prequel.
At a dark and mysterious abbey in the hills of Romania, two nun's wander down an eerie hallway to a door that is protecting them from an unspeakable evil. Taken by an unseen force, one of the nun's gets dragged into the darkness. You are filled with panic and dread as you race down the hallway praying that the surviving nun makes it out alive. Sealing herself inside a bedroom, she has to think fast. As a sacrifice in an effort to avoid being possessed by this demon, she hangs herself out the window. I'm sad to say that this was just one of the very few scenes that were legitimately frightening...
Word spreads throughout the church of a nun committing suicide in an abbey located in Romania. Father Burke, and a fellow novitiate, Sister Irene, set out to Romania to confirm if the site is deemed as 'unholy.' This part of the movie catches my attention and furthermore contributes to the backstory of the Conjuring franchise. You begin to ask yourself what they might find when they get there and if they'll make it out alive.
Upon arrival, they meet 'Frenchie', Jonas Bloquet, a French Canadian man who found the remains of the dead nun just outside the abbey. In my opinion--his character gets lost in the shuffle which is a shame because he's very lovable and easy on the eyes. Frenchie lacks a more substantial motive which ultimately contributes to his 'filler' role. Although he is charming and lovable, his reason for remaining a part of the 'holy team' is missing. There's no real motive for him to be there besides his duty to deliver supplies to the nun's in the abbey and his obvious infatuation with Taissa Farmiga, Sister Irene, and even then those aren't strong enough reasons. But, I will say that Frenchie's connection to the first Conjuring film was a delightful surprise although the scene was a little humorous and a little overdone. This twist ties in a few loose ends in the franchise and further contributes to the lore behind the Nun.
Some of the story gets a little muddled with some scenes that are unnecessary in my opinion. There are certain things in some scenes that occurred in the abbey that could have been left out. When the evil presence begins to play relentless mind games with Sister Irene and Father Burke--there are significant moments that make you think--
Once you see this film you'll know exaccccctly what I'm talking about.
A lot of people have been asking me if this film is worth a visit to the theater--and my answer is--yes. Why? The story itself is fascinating to me especially if you're a fan of the Conjuring universe. The Nun is submerged in lore rather than gore or the usual scares we expect from James Wan films such as Lights Out, Insidious and Saw. This film is a bit different. It isn't an Oscar winner but it's just enough to sit through and enjoy. Go in with the mindset of a typical movie-goer not a movie critic and you'll enjoy it.
Here's a question I've gotten a lot once I saw this film--is it scary? And in my opinion--no, it is not. It's not on the same level as the other Conjuring films. Some have even stated that it was 'terrifying' or the 'darkest chapter' of the franchise and that's definitely pushing it and extremely inaccurate. When you've been exposed to a plethora of horror films like I have you become desensitized. You also become aware of what a successful scare looks like. In this film, there were a few quick scares but they almost felt incomplete and almost half-assed. Those elements left me--the horror-loving-terror-seeking-fiend feeling short-changed. And if there's anything that you shouldn't do to a horror-lover is short-change them on the scares.
The Nun had a heavy hype leading up to the release of this film. By the time the film was over, I had this empty feeling inside like a kid who was promised a king-sized candy bar but got an apple instead. I was promised something terrifying and received a sub-par film instead.
James Wan produced this film so I can't exactly point the finger at him. But I will say this--if he had been directing the film--I think we would have had another cinematic hit to add to this franchise. He has had an amazing track record as a director. I wish he would have been given the reigns to direct the Nun.
Praying that we get a decent Conjuring 3 film...