Film review: ‘The Nun’ provides a lazy and forgettable horror experience

Film review: 'The Nun' provides a lazy and forgettable horror experience

In 2013, a horror film titled “The Conjuring” was released, and quickly made itself known as a modern horror classic. With effective scares and sympathetic characters backed by solid performances, “The Conjuring” was a step in the right direction for what had been a period of stagnation for the horror genre.

It was even followed up by a fairly decent sequel, “The Conjuring 2.” However, in an attempt to capitalize on these successes, New Line Cinema began making spin-off films based on the various ghosts and demons that appear in these films. As a result, we have now ended up with the absolute travesty that is “The Nun.”

“The Nun” follows Father Burke (Demían Bichir) and novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they investigate the suicide of a nun at a Romanian abbey. They arrive at the abbey with the help of a local French-Canadian farmer who goes by “Frenchie” (Jonas Bloquet) who discovered the nun’s body. Upon investigating, the group finds that the abbey is plagued by a great evil, manifesting itself as a grotesque nun, and must find a way to prevent its spread.

On paper, this basic plot outline seems fine, but there is one huge flaw with it. Nothing besides what was described in the previous paragraph happens. With its 1 hour and 36 minute runtime, “The Nun” manages to cover around 3 plot points in its entirely. The are semblances of subplots that try at character development, but fail miserably at adding anything of importance to the plot. Any real plot points set the stakes so ridiculously high that it feels like a child wrote it. (If you wish to avoid minor spoilers, skip to the next paragraph, but one section of the movie actually has the characters searching for the blood of Jesus Christ.)

The runtime is made up mostly of long drawn out scenes of one of the three bland characters being haunted in one way or another. This could hypothetically work, but none of the scares are all that great- some of the laziest in recent years, perhaps.

“The Nun” relies heavily on jump-scares, and predictable jump-scares at that. To break the convention of my reviews momentarily, as I was watching this movie in the theater, the friend I was with and I were taking turns predicting where the next jumpscare would come from. We were right almost every time.

Outside of lazy scares and boring story, every character in this movie is bland and forgettable. This is a real shame, as each actor has done great work in the past. These actors are not untalented. Rather, they each seem as if they are trying to do good work, but are bogged down by some very lazy writing.

The characters are so bland that the movie barely feels like it’s about them, instead focusing almost entirely on the horror of the abbey, rather than how the characters respond to that horror. For most of the movie (with the exception of the last 20 minutes, maybe,) it feels like the protagonists are just watching the plot happen, rather than making the plot happen. This makes the characters feel non-essential, and therefore makes the audience not care in the slightest what happens to them.

To break convention once more, as I left the theater, I genuinely struggled to remember what Father Burke, the character with first billing on the cast list, added the plot. Upon thinking it over, I realized it was nothing. One of the two main characters could be entirely erased from the movie and nothing would change.

Also, for a movie called “The Nun,” the titular nun makes relatively few appearances. Until the end of the movie, most of the scares come from other spooky apparitions, or over the top cheesy horror tropes like the much overdone cross turning upside down or the slightly boring overuse of candles being extinguished. The Nun character ends up feeling like some demonic mob boss, pulling strings from far away until the very end. By the end, she doesn’t feel like much of a threat, and isn’t all that scary.

The horror genre is one that relies on tension. “The Nun” forgot to insert any real tension into its 96 minute runtime, and ends up a boring, forgettable, mess because of it. The writing is lazy, the scares are lazy, even the basic plot is lazy.

In summary, “The Nun” is a movie you can pass on. If you care deeply about “The Conjuring” franchise, there is one callback to the original movie at the very, very end that you could find through a quick google search. It is not worth sitting through an hour and a half of a bland mess to find out what it is. If you feel the need to see every horror movie that comes out, or maybe need a quick laugh at a bad horror movie, then “The Nun” is for you. But for the vast majority, movie tickets are expensive: spend the 15 dollars on something worth seeing.