If you’re trying to break your Kubrick bender, sometimes you just have to pull the band-aid right off.
Title: The Nun (2018)
Director: Corin Hardy
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet
Have I Seen it Before: Just opened this weekend, so that would be pretty impossible… Now, as to the question of whether or not I would ever see it again…
Did I Like It: To be as nice as possible, it didn’t annoy me nearly as much as I thought it might.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe works, and works massively well. Every other attempt to make a shared universe in film has been some degree of a failure. Universal’s attempt at a “Dark Universe” now has two confirmed failures to launch (although, to be fair, their stable of monsters formed a fairly functional and successful shared universe before that was a thing that studio shareholders looked for). Sony/Columbia’s attempts to make something larger out of Ghostbusters is not really talked about anymore, even though Ghostbusters (2016) largely works as a movie (fight me). Even Warner Bros. and their DC stable of heroes had many of the same ingredients as Marvel, but instead neglected to make an undeniably good movie until their fourth attempt with Wonder Woman (2017).
Which brings us to The Conjuring. I actually have never seen the original film (or for that matter, any of the others). So any connection to a larger tapestry meant absolutely nothing to me. The heroine of the movie, Sister Irene is played by Taissa Farmiga, the younger sister of Conjuring main stage heroine, Vera Farmiga. Is this casting supposed to be significant? The movie doesn’t attempt to answer or even address the question, so I will put it out of my mind. In fact, aside from a ham-fisted framing device which is merely footage from the original The Conjuring (2013), there is little that I picked up on connecting matters to a larger mythology. That sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t, necessarily. The best of the Marvel movies aren’t terribly focused on connecting to the large tableau. If only they had omitted the bookends, this might have been an average affair.
And average is a little charitable. Very little dread permeates the film, which would seem to indicate that the filmmaker would default to jump scares. Indeed, much of the criticism of the film thus far lambasted the reliance on merely startling, not terrifying the audience. But, in reality, I counted the amount of jump scares and attempted jump scares in the film. In the entire movie, there were five jump scares that worked, and three that never quite got off. Assuming we give half-credit to the failed attempts, that gives a grand total of five and a half total jump scares. With a run time of 96 minutes, that allows for one jump scare roughly ever 17.5 minutes. Even allowing for the notion that there is a refractory period between periods of being genuinely startled, that’s pretty anemic.
It should probably should bare mentioning that if I had the presence of mind to count jump scares, than the movie isn’t probably firing on all cylinders.
Had The Nun stuck to its own story, or really reached for the effects for which it might have been aiming, it might have been a passable B-movie. Unfortunately there’s just too much in the movie that loses the audience, thus it was not quite possible for me to lose myself in it.