Essence of the supernatural and paranormal have been around for centuries: ghost sightings, the unholy and even the odd poltergeist. The film industry has been no stranger to this element of our supposed afterlife, with films such as The Amityville Horror, The Shining, and most recently, The Conjuring Universe all drawing focus to spirituality and immortality. On the topic of The Conjuring, a highly successful franchise in its own right, the 2013 film has grossed another two films, with a third currently in development. In the latest instalment, Corin Hardy’s The Nun takes supernatural goings-on to a brand new level.
A franctic, unfriendly ghost story
It’s 1952. A naive and impressionable Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) travels to Romania in a bid to uncover the dark and unholy secrets held within the confines of a nunnery destroyed by death, deceit and the loss of a priceless Christian relic. Summoned by Father Bourke (Demián Bichir), a Catholic priest, the pair are tasked with investigating the untimely deaths of two nuns who lived at the monastery, both of whom were killed by an unseen and unknown force. As the action unfolds, we see Sister Irene, Father Bourke and bumbling villager Frenchie take down the malevolent force that is wreaking havoc upon the church and the religious practices at the monastery.
In my opinion, the film was somewhat chaotic and lacked fluency. Different characters in different scenes at different locations with different events happening all at once. At times the action simply didn’t match, it was messy and inconsistent. I’d be lying if I said the action wasn’t thrilling to watch, it had me hooked to some extent, but it’s only when all of the action was pieced together did the film spiral into a mix of scenes and characters whom I’d find myself having to keep up with.
Combining scares and strong-casting
Despite the frenzied nature of the film, one thing I was suitably impressed by was the acting talent. It would appear an acting career based around the spiritual and sadistic is a firm choice for Taissa Farmiga (Sister Irene), fresh from her success in American Horror Story. Sister Irene, Father Bourke and Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) formed a powerful trio throughout the film and it was interesting to see how this relationship developed. We see Father Bourke’s religious morals thrown into question and Frenchie become the version of himself he never knew he could be, and Sister Irene challenges her faith entirely when she encounters the demonic nun she has been tasked to deal with.
As far as horror movies go, this film will most likely give you something to be scared at. The SFX are undoubtedly good, giving the film the lift it certainly needed at times. The use of music also played a huge part in a handful of scenes, giving them a cinematic edge and propelling the action deeper into the eyes of the viewer.
Is this film good? Yes, mostly. Though it certainly lacks the quality and character of a good, juicy horror movie. It’s chaotic and even cringey in some places, the action becoming so surreal and heightened it borders on absurdity. But one thing that did strike a chord was the acting and the incredible setting, both of which saved the film from being an overdramatic and stereotypical representation of a supernatural horror movie.
Words by Paige Bradshaw