THE NUNMOVIE REVIEW
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
I don't get any of James Wan's supernatural Horror movies and, as of this writing, I've never reviewed THE CONJURING movies. But that's okay. There are people who do like them and do get them, apparently.
Producer James Wan's supernatural Horror movies do reasonably well at the box office and clearly have their audience and good for them.
I also admire James Wan and he is really moving it in the Horror genre. He's created or co-created several Horror movie franchises that are doing well. Again, good for him.
So what is the point of my reviewing his movies if they don't scare me?
I'm a writer and writing defines the writer. If you know where I'm coming from, you have a better idea if we're on the same wavelength and you can determine whether my reviews mesh with your tastes.
So the movie opens in 1952 with the connective tissue to THE CONJURING 2. Alone at night, in the dark, in a hallway overwhelmingly large enough to be oppressive, two nuns, seemingly scared out of their wits but pressing forward anyway in the name of all that's Holy, approach a door.
The door is etched in Romanian writing that is translated as God Ends Here.
They open it and Merry Mishaps occur.
Soon a Father Burke (Demián Bichir: DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, HIPNOS, MACHETE KILLS, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, ALIEN: COVENANT) is sent on a mission by the Vatican. Go check out an ancient ruined, but apparently active, Catholic church in Romania and verify whether or not Merry Mishaps are occurring there.
Oh, and take this initiate with you for auld lang syne.
So Father Burke travels with Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga: ANNA , THE FINAL GIRLS, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: APOCALYPSE) to Romania where they meet the local, and expatriate French Canadian, Frenchie (Played by Belgian actor, Jonas Bloquet) who got the whole ball of wax started when he saw something.
As the three find the church seemingly deserted, they come across moderately creepy things that are either down played or overplayed.
The graveyard with bells hanging from the tombstones was a good touch. The way this later entered into the story was a little on the nose but something to build upon. The way that every single thing after was telegraphed in a linear line to its place in the story was a bit much.
Under the Direction of Corin Hardy (THE HALLOW), on a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, BLOODMONKEY, SWAMP DEVIL, ANNABELLE, WITHIN, WOLVES AT THE DOOR, ANNABELLE: CREATION, IT), and based off of a story pitch by James Wan and Gary, "Prayer" has so much to do with THE NUN, that you'd be forgiven if you thought it was made by TV Evangelicals.
The idea that is continuously drummed into the audience is that the Evil, which has taken the form of a Nun (Bonnie Aarons: MULHOLLAND DR. [TV], MULHOLLAND DRIVE, SPECTER'S ROCK, INALIENABLE, DRAG ME TO HELL, DAHMER VS. GACY, THE CONJURING 2), can only be kept at bay if you Pray As Hard As You Can, for as long as you can. "Never stop praying!" is repeated throughout the movie.
Apparently God is going to let evil have its ugly way with his most devoted, if they don't spend every second of their time flattering him incessantly.
Within this movie, however, prayer works sporadically. The Devil may be Evil, but God is indifferent.
In all ways from sound to visual to sets to direction, this is the most pedestrian effort I can remember in a major theatrical release.
I've seen worse, of course. I saw 2008's knuckle-headed philoso-babble of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and the spastic monkey claptrap of THE SPIRIT. But if nothing else, those movies looked like someone was trying, though failing, to present a unique vision.
THE NUN is surprisingly dull.
Surprising because we've been led to believe that this prequel to 2017's ANNABELLE: CREATION, itself a prequel to 2016's THE CONJURING 2 and 2014's ANNABELLE, is really going to knock our socks off! This is what the whole franchise was leading to, this origin story, and what we finally get is so diluted and poorly thought out that it was pointless to bother making it.
Well, not entirely pointless. All of the almost but not quite good, hit and miss previous movies in the franchise gave THE NUN a great $53 million opening weekend against its $22 million budget (and a $90 million advertising budget. And tons of reshoots).
So far the biggest hits in this franchise are the ones James Wan directed himself (THE CONJURING, THE CONJURING 2). He's not so good at choosing others to play with his toys.
Also, by the end of the movie I had no idea why THE NUN was rated R. There's no nudity, I don't recall any foul language, and the gore is TV mild. JAWS had more gore and it was rated PG - and that was way back in 1975!