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The Nun review - average horror does exactly what it says on the tin

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Verdict: while nothing new, it’s a decent horror movie and worth seeing if you’re a fan of the franchise.

The Conjuring, released in 2013, is one of the best horror movies of modern times. So, as with any successful horror movie, it birthed many sequels, each slightly worse than the last. That being said, it still remains a decent franchise.

The Nun is the fifth film in The Conjuring universe, but it’s set in 1952, making it the first in the story chronologically. It follows the origin of the ‘demon nun’ seen in The Conjuring 2; when the creators noticed the popularity of the antagonist, they soon decided to dedicate a film to her (much like they did with the evil doll Annabelle, who already has two films).

The Nun is set and filmed entirely in Romania, a place with strong horror connotations mainly thanks to the vampiric myths surrounding Transylvania. However, demons are the supernatural entity in this film, where a priest (Demián Bichir) and a young nun (Taissa Farmiga) travel to an abbey to investigate the suicide of one of the Sisters. 

You may recognise Taissa Farmiga from her work in American Horror Story. She is also the younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in the first two films. They are not related in the movie, which seems like a wasted opportunity, especially since their stories are connected. While Taissa is not the best actress, her wide-eyed look suits the innocent, saintly character of a novice nun.

The film relies on the usual jump scares and horror movie tropes, but still, the use of whispers and crows squawking in surround sound creates a brilliantly creepy atmosphere. There’s also a refreshing lack of boring filler scenes; once you’re in the abbey, the spookiness doesn’t falter.

There is a strange, out-of-place attempt at comic relief with the character of Frenchie, a French Canadian farmer who first discovers the dead nun and shows the investigators to the abbey. The comedy doesn’t work in this context, instead seeming rather cringey. It is ultimately revealed that he is connected to the rest of the franchise, but this could instead have been done more logically with the other characters.

Some may complain that the titular nun has relatively few appearances, but I’m under the impression that less is more when it comes to monster screen time in horrors. Much of the fear comes from the suspense evoked from waiting for her to appear. If she were around every corner, it would quickly become tedious.

The Nun is in cinemas now.

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