The Nun (15)

Horror (2018)
96mins US

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons, Jonny Coyne, Demian Bichir
Director: Corin Hardy
Writer(s): James Wan, Gary Dauberman
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In 1950s Romania, a young nun at an abbey takes her own life, casting a veil of darkness over the abbey. Novitiate Sister Irene experiences disturbing visions of the nun and the Vatican dispatches her to Romania in the company of experienced Catholic priest Father Burke. Aided by a local villager called Frenchie, Father Burke and Sister Irene unearth the order's dark secrets and confront a malevolent force that lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Nun (15)

Oh sister. In the 2016 horror The Conjuring 2, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are terrorised by an ashen-faced, demonic nun with glowing eyes called Valak (Bonnie Aarons). The origin of this hell-bound harpy in a habit, teased in a post-end credits scene in last year's Annabelle: Creation, provides a couple of predictable jolts, but no lasting shivers in Corin Hardy's creaky supernatural horror. Based on a script by Gary Dauberman, The Nun employs familiar tropes to pit a battle-scarred holy man and a fresh-faced postulant against ancient evil, which can assume myriad forms and heralds its approach by inverting crucifixes and causing the wooden crosses to burst into flames...

The Nun. Copyright: 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene in The Nun, directed by Corin Hardy. Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.Every brush with death is clearly telegraphed and characters repeatedly bid farewell to common sense by investigating strange sounds on their own down darkened corridors. Dauberman employs droll humour to dissipate the fleeting suspense, including a ludicrous exchange about a vial of holy water, which gleefully melds religion and pointless profanity. "The following occurred in 1952," boldly proclaims the opening title card of The Nun, cheekily inferring that this hoary yarn of pure cobweb-festooned fantasy contains a germ of historical fact.

Sister Victoria (Charlotte Hope) is part of a cloistered order of nuns at the Abbey of St Carta in Romania, who takes her life after an ancient malevolent force, Valak, infects the holy ground. Bishop Pasquale (Michael Smiley) at the Vatican summons war veteran and priest, Father Burke (Demian Bichir), who has a remit to investigate "unusual phenomena associated with Catholicism".

He travels to St Vincent's Hospital in London to convene with a novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who will apparently assist the Father's enquiries. The young woman politely declines, claiming she has no connection with the Romanian abbey or the suicidal sister. "Every reason the Vatican makes is with purpose. I'm sure they had their reasons for selecting you," calmly responds Father Burke. The pair depart for eastern Europe. Father Burke unearths dark secrets buried in the consecrated grounds of the abbey, aided by a handsome local villager called Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet). Meanwhile, Sister Irene befriends two members of the accursed order: Sister Orana (Ingrid Bisu) and Sister Ruth (Sandra Teles).

Abandon hope of spine-chilling terror all ye who enter a cinema showing The Nun. Hardy's picture is light on originality and devoid of reasons to bite a nail. Bichir and Farmiga scream and spout holy scripture with gusto while Bloquet provides unexpected comic relief and clumsily misjudged romance. A brief coda, set 20 years later, neatly dovetails with events from other instalments of the sprawling franchise and gives the impression that this far-fetched chapter is part of a spooky grand design.

- Kim Hu

The Nun. Copyright: 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene in The Nun, directed by Corin Hardy. Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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