With the power to hit a home run, The Nun simply hits a single to left field to more applause then is deserved.
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in The Conjuring 2 as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that I have not seen any of the films in The Conjuring universe. However, The Nun intrigued me not only as a fun end-of-the-summer light horror film, but also with its religious themes. When I heard that this film had a budget of over $20 million, a healthy amount for the horror genre, I was hoping to get some high quality production value and a fun, somewhat scary, horror film. Instead I was treated to a film that was just so-so. At times the set pieces were very beautiful in and around the abbey, but the setting was so dark and at night that it was hard to tell when we were outside and actually in Romania and when we were on a soundstage. A few more scenes during the day would've helped this film to have more atmosphere in the evenings where the real action takes place.
The Nun stars Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) as Father Burke, Taissa Farmiga (TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Sister Irene, and Jonas Bloquet (“Elle”) as local villager Frenchie. Unfortunately, formally Oscar-nominated Bichir is only passable in the role of the seasoned priest / exorcist, never seeming to really get his feet under him in the performance. Bloquet has a couple of funny moments as the comedic relief in the film, especially one where he pulls a cross out of the grave yard and carries it into a local pub. Farmiga however is the highlight of the film giving her character, a novitiate nun, a real sense of innocence and purity that elevates the role.
There are some heavy religious themes throughout this film. You have the portrayal of the Catholic Church, a priest and a novitiate. The local towns people are also religious, if not out of fear more than anything else. The central plot of the film of course revolves around the battle between the religious, symbolizing good, and the demonic, symbolizing evil.
To me the most disappointing part of this film is the potential to really show people who serve in religious life in a positive light. Especially the priesthood which often has to deal with demonic activity in different parts of the world. I have met Priests, Pastors and other religious leaders who have been involved with deliverance ministry and they have far more backbone and grit then the priest portrayed in this film.