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With: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, Sandra Teles
Written by: Gary Dauberman, based on a story by Gary Dauberman, James Wan
Directed by: Corin Hardy
MPAA Rating: R for terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images
Running Time: 96
Date: 09/07/2018

The Nun (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sister Cracked

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sadly, this horror movie, an attempt at a fifth chapter in the Conjuring universe, is, despite a temptingly promising locale, nowhere near as scary, as inspired, or as coherent as its predecessors.

In The Nun, which takes place before the events of The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Conjuring 2, and Annabelle: Creation, a young nun commits a terrible sin. She commits suicide by jumping out the window of her Romanian abby. It's 1952, and the Vatican calls upon Father Burke (Demián Bichir), who is experienced in exorcisms, and the young, idealistic novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who has yet to take her vows, to investigate.

They find help from a local called "Frenchie" (Jonas Bloquet), who delivers supplies to the abby. The Father and sister are asked to spend the night there, but strange things begin happening almost immediately. Soon it becomes apparent that an evil that has lived in the abby has recently been released. The visitors must find the key to sealing it up again before it's too late.

Corin Hardy's The Nun begins well with a strong cast, led by Oscar-nominee Bichir and Farmiga, the younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who of course played Lorraine Warren in the two Conjuring movies. Early images of dimly lit rooms in the Vatican, and the first glimpses of the haunted abby, bring to mind atmospheric chillers like The Exorcist or The Witch. But hopes are quickly dashed with the quick onslaught of jump-scares (punctuated by loud noises on the soundtrack) or characters waking up from "surprise" nightmares.

Most of the action takes place at night, and so the filmmakers to cloud everything with a grayish dimness, which allows the hastily-assembled (or perhaps recycled?) digital effects to blend in. Scenes that could have been moody or scary are then played out like action scenes, with characters wrestling zombie nuns, nuns with shark teeth, or chasing demon-possessed boys through the woods, etc.

After all the noise and all the scuffling, it turns out there really isn't much of a story here, nor much of a point. Perhaps worse, it veers further away from the intriguing "true story" that inspired the original. Overall, The Nun feels dashed off, meant as a place-holder, until the (hopefully) next real movie comes along.

Warner Home Video's Blu-ray release is excellent, with very strong picture and sound, a bonus DVD, and a bonus digital copy. There are three short featurettes (some with producer James Wan), and 12 minutes of deleted scenes, plus trailers at startup.

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