MOVIE REVIEW: The Nun

September 19, 2018

With its numerous sequels, spin-offs and assorted prequels, you’d be forgiven for thinking James Wan’s multi-million grossing horror franchise was the stuff of lazy, creatively exhausted film-making. But rather than the relentless regurgitation and rehashing of a provenly lucrative storyline, closer inspection reveals that, despite discernible ties with previous titles, each skilfully crafted instalment displays more than a smattering of its own unique cinematic merits. Take, for example, the impeccable period detail and deeply disquieting possession scenes of The Conjuring II or the quiet, slow-burning menace of Annabelle: Creation.  

 

Enter our most recent case in point: The Nun. A lavishly crafted gothic horror set some twenty years before famed husband and wife duo Ed and Lorraine Warren make their first petrifying foray into the chilling, frequently perilous realms of paranormal investigation. It is here, in the picturesquely remote hills and craggy peaks of rural Romania that we first encounter Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), an intrepid trainee nun whose extraordinary lifelong visions have led her inexorably to the notoriously cursed Carta Monastery. Tasked with the rather daunting job of ridding the forsaken abbey of the ancient and unspeakable evil presently terrorising the convent and its penguin-suited occupants, our plucky young heroine is joined in her quest by the suitably brooding Father Burke (Demián Bichir). Together with the aid of loveable village idiot Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) therein ensues an epic battle against a monstrous host of dark and violently unpredictable supernatural forces.

With its deliciously macabre, Hammer Horror-worthy wealth of mist-shrouded graveyards, towering gothic battlements and lurking shadows, Wan’s unfailing knack for crafting intensely atmospheric, visually arresting cinema is once again richly displayed in abundance. Deftly orchestrated into a variety of wickedly inventive shocks and scares, equal levels of meticulous attention to detail can be found in its relentlessly nerve-shredding action sequences. But despite The Nun’s lavishly enticing aesthetic charm and unrelenting theatrical tension, such all-consuming focus on these more superficial elements is achieved at considerable detriment to the development of its distinctly underused theatrical leads. And though Farmiga and Bichir’s emotional range is both impressively expansive and organically portrayed throughout, too little fleshing out of their respective characters leaves us with little more than a pair of rather sketchy and clichéd genre tropes. That said, this big-budget horror supplies more than enough atmospheric depth and high-octane thrills to hold our attention rapt until its intriguing final twist leaves our minds reeling with unanswered questions and the unmistakable promise of fresh revelations to come. Until the next episode…

 

 

 

 

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