Keepin’ It Reel: The Nun

with Cassidy McKnight

Cassidy McKnight , Staff Writer

Watching the trailer, I expected “The Nun” to be utterly terrifying, and I didn’t want to go watch it in a dark theater alone. Sadly, seeing this motion picture on the big screen was a little disappointing to someone like me who enjoys horror movies. My main concern with “The Nun” was how the screenwriters took up almost half the movie to build up the plot with a few jump scares that most people had already seen in the trailer. As someone who has enjoyed every movie in “The Conjuring” universe, “The Nun” did not live up to the expectations set by the other movies.

The movie begins in 1952, where an invisible force attacks two Roman Catholic nuns while retrieving an ancient Catholic relic. The lone survivor, Sister Victoria, played by Charlotte Hope, escapes her attacker and hangs herself. The Vatican, the superiors of the Roman Catholic church, learn of this event and send out Father Burke and Sister Irene, a nun in training, to Romania to investigate. After discovering a key on Victoria’s body, the Mother Superior of the abbey begins to tell them about the dark spirit they are keeping at bay. Sister Irene and Father Burke return to the abbey the next day after uncovering the demon’s name, Valak. The demon attacks the two and a man named Maurice, effectively possessing Maurice without Sister Irene or Father Burke noticing.

Twenty years later, Ed and Lorraine Warren, demonologists from “The Conjuring,” present footage of their attempts to exorcise Valak out of Maurice. During the exorcism Maurice grabs Lorraine, which gives her visions of her husband dying. In the very back of the lecture hall, a mother listens to the presentation, desperate to find answers to save her family.

Although you may not know her by name, Taissa Farmiga has been a part of the horror genre for years now. She has played four brilliant roles in four of the eight seasons of the hit horror television show, “American Horror Story,” and her role as Sister Irene in “The Nun” was no exception. However, it was strange that she was cast as Sister Irene because her sister Vera Farmiga was cast as Lorraine Warren in “The Conjuring”. This caused a lot of confusion during the twenty-year jump at the end of “The Nun” where Lorraine, who looks like an older Sister Irene, has become a demonologist and helps exorcise the same demon that Sister Irene had battled in 1952. Not only do they look alike, but during “The Nun”, Sister Irene reveals to Father Burke that she has been able to see visions since she was very young, much like Lorraine in “The Conjuring”. Though the director says there is no real connection between the two, I think it would’ve helped the ratings of “The Nun” if there was.

The most interesting thing “The Nun” had to offer was how it tied into “The Conjuring”. All the movies in “The Conjuring” universe are tied together in some way, but I was not expecting “The Nun” to follow the same pattern, much less tie into the plot of the very first movie. “The Nun” had a lot of scenes that were only scary enough to make you jump, but it had one scene in the particular that gave me chills on a whole new level.

In the film’s final battle, Sister Irene has discovered where Valak originally came from and she comes face to face with the demon. During the struggle, Irene is thrown backward onto a set of stairs. As she catches her breath, Valak rises from the water to face her. The camera then flips to show the scene through Irene’s point of view and the suspense is terrifying. After a quiet moment or two, Valak runs straight towards the camera and snatches Sister Irene into her hands. This scene takes away your mind’s barrier between real life and fantasy; it takes you from being a spectator in a haunted house setting to responding to the real-life terror of being chased. You have to catch your breath and keep telling yourself, “I’m in a movie theater, not a church in the 1950s. It’s not real.”

“The Nun” was not at all what I was expecting. I went in with some high expectations that were shot down within the first 15 minutes. The actors were amazing and the graphics were incredible, but the plot lacked real terror. I truly enjoyed the storyline, but this movie was portrayed as better than “The Conjuring,” and I was disappointed to say the least. I would rate this movie a 5 out of 10, because the movie consisted of little jump scares you would see in a thriller movie from the early 2000s, rather than a horror movie during this day and age. This is a good movie if you just want a thrill, but definitely not a film anyone hoping to be frightened to death should waste a movie ticket on.