The Nun (2018)
★ / ★★★★
Something has to be done with these horror movies that are so reliant on CGI, the filmmakers who helm these projects forget that the horrific experience they strive to create must be rooted in something genuine and convincing. It goes without saying that “The Nun,” written by Gary Dauberman and directed by Corin Hardy, is yet another generic would-be fright flick, a product created simply because “The Conjuring 2” was successful financially. There is nothing scary about; it merely offers a series of loud noises designed to make the viewer jump but they prove ineffective because those in charge do not understand how to build suspense and tension.
It is unfortunate because Taissa Farmiga, who plays a Catholic novitiate accompanying a priest (Demián Bichir) in a Romanian abbey following a nun’s apparent suicide, is quite watchable in the role. Those saucer eyes are so mysterious, they are perfect in a film that takes place inside a dark castle where bizarre events occur come sundown. But the writing does not give the performer any sort of justice. Sister Irene is reduced to yet another heroine to be terrorized and nothing else. I’m still waiting for Farmiga’s breakout film role because I am convinced she has the makings of a performer who can do great work for decades.
The supposed scares are as typical as they come. There is a strategy so played out, that by its third or forth execution, viewers with an IQ of above fifty can predict when the jump scare will materialize. For instance, the camera’s subject encounters a hooded figure from a few feet away. In order to get a better look of the figure’s face or countenance, the subject reaches for an object, like a candle or a lantern. Naturally, the camera’s perspective follows where the subject is looking. When the camera returns to the spot where the figure was found originally, it is no longer there. Three beats pass. There goes the deafening noise. Of course the jump comes from behind the subject. It is boring and uninspired.
Given such ineffective repetition, I wondered if the filmmakers became bored of themselves. I wondered if they still considered themselves artists when they fail to even strive to create something new or exciting. I wondered if they were in it only for the money or experience. Yes, giving us bottom-of-the-barrel material should be considered a personal affront. It is an insult to us because they waste our time, money, and attention.
They even fail to create a convincing sense of place. Here is a story that takes place in a castle, commanding such a Gothic style of architecture from the outside that even when it is daylight there is a foreboding feeling about the milieu. And so we cannot wait for the characters to explore inside. But what happens? The characters end up being in the same place. We get to see only about ten percent of castle—which is a mistake not only because the scares are redundant, the images themselves become repetitive, too. Furthermore, these same rooms look like a set. Look at the candles closely. Those are electric, those cheap ones from the dollar stores.
“The Nun” is so uninteresting to me, I began counting how many times I yawned throughout the film: twelve times. It is so dull, I began to count how many hours of sleep I had the night before: eight hours. And it is so devoid of artistry, of craft, of intelligence, I lost track of the number of clichés it dared to commit. I stopped at about fifteen.