a review by the Crow.
WARNING: This is a long, spoiler-filled post. You have been warned.
or, why I’m reviewing this movie instead of the Azure-Winged Magpie
First, a short story: [Click here to skip to the actual review; this is probably longer]
Monday — for the first time since Infinity War — I went to the theatres with a friend. It was her last day in the city, and I thought, why not? It’s been a while, and the last few months have been one hell of a rollercoaster ride for both myself, as well as the Azure-Winged Magpie.
We had a decent meal (I cannot help but pick food apart like I’m Gordon Ramsay), and ended up at the local cinema. I haven’t known this woman for too long, so I had no idea about her taste in movies. So, I let her pick whatever she fancied, dreading the prospect of perhaps finding myself dragged into watching something I’d despise.
Personally, I had one of: BlacKkKlansman, The Predator, and King of Thieves on the mind. And we had enough time to catch two movies before we had to leave. BlacKkKlansman was showing too late for us (has it really been out that long?), and so was King of Thieves. I’ve been disconnected from movies for far too long, but I wasn’t exactly hyped for The Predator, going by its trailers, but it was my only hope. So imagine my surprise when she picks The Predator, and… The Nun.
Now, I’ve watched the first Insidious movie (and thought it was hilarious) a long time ago. And I thought it was connected to this franchise — or maybe even shared universe — that has built up, lately. But it seems I stand corrected. The Nun is part of a separate franchise altogether; a franchise that ties together The Conjuring and The Annabelle movies, along with some shorter works and this particular spin-off.
Apologies if this has dragged on far too long, but this is all new to me. The reason I’m going so far into all of this is that it turns out that I know something about these movies even though I’ve never seen a single one of them: Ed and Lorraine Warren.
I don’t think I have to make a point of what I think about their so-called “investigations”, or their claims. I find myself often in awe of what people swallow up, some times. On the one hand, I like saying that I couldn’t care less. And in the next moment, I’m picking my jaw up off the floor.
Two minutes of searching on Google reveals that The Nun is actually a prequel (which explains a certain scene in the movie that had me expecting a sudden shift in time) to The Conjuring 2, which — in turn — is based on the Enfield Poltergeist; or, as I prefer to call it: “The Not-So Mysterious Case of the Annoying Girl Who Lived in the Council Estates of Enfield”. And no. The Enfield… Hoax, has nothing to do with a nun. Therefore, I believe I may charge the Azure-Winged Magpie with executing whoever added (something along the lines of) the following text to the beginning of The Nun:
The following happened in Romania in 1952
No. It didn’t. Within the universe of the movie, it might have, but if you’re running with an incident that did happen (hoax or not), and have projections of real people in your movie — you are quite simply preying on weaker minds. I find the air of authority that reeks off that statement disturbing.
But then again, that’s probably why I’m not a millionaire by now.
Anyway, that’s a pet peeve of mine; that said, however, what this led me down was a rabbithole of multiple YouTubers (some with considerable followings) who are having serious conversations about “cases” like this, including a woman with over six hundred and fifty-three thousand subscribers (and a LOT of activity), who KNOWS someone who is being haunted by a demonic nun. Who thereafter has a video about the Enfield case where she talks about the “science” surrounding poltergeists.
Let’s just move on.
WARNING: This section contains MAJOR spoilers
The following happened in Romania in 1952
Oh, by the way. This takes place in a small region (not sure what the official terminology is) called “Țara Făgărașului”. I picked up on a few names during the movie, and couldn’t put my finger on why up until today. The Cat used to go trekking around in Wallachia every summer until med school got the better of her, and she’s been around the area. And I’ll tell you this right now: she’s far scarier than anything in this movie.
But random anecdotes aside… Two nuns walk up to a door at the end of a dark and spooky corridor. On the door are the words:
God Ends Here
Or something along those lines. Subtle.
It’s nigh impossible to make out what they’re saying, but I think one of the sisters is on a mission to retrieve something. She goes through the door, and inevitably dies (people in horror movies never learn). The surviving Sister flees while a vaguely nun-shaped figure follows her from out of the shadows. The Sister puts a rope around her neck, says a prayer for the sin she’s about to commit, and commits suicide by jumping off a window — hanging herself until dead.
The Vatican dispatches one Father Burke (Demián Bichir Nájera) to investigate. And sends him to… London. He’s there to pick up Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, I guess these movies are a family business, now) for reasons unbeknownst to him, and then travel to Romania. There, they meet the man who found the body of the nun: Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) a sleazebag who later turns out to have a heart of gold.
All of this happens in the first fifteen minutes or so. And to just drive home how messy all of this is, I even left out two meaningless plot elements along the way. These three are basically our main characters.
Note: For those of you who read my “Opening Thoughts” section, here’s an interesting aside. I’ve long claimed my house is haunted to people as a joke. It’s old, almost as old as when this movie is set, and hasn’t had any major renovations done in years. Things go bump in the night, and I once even spun a whole narrative about a man who lives in the walls (it was a lot more fun before my noisy neighbours came in and ruined the quiet of my home — they’re fighting as I type, downstairs.) of my house.
The further I get into this, the more the wind is picking up, and it’s dark outside. My heating system’s kicking up a bit of a fuss (i.e.: the man is moving between houses again), and my curtains are billowing. I’m having a lot of fun wondering what those YouTubers I mentioned would make of a scenario like this.
Yes. I have nothing else to do today other than blog and hunt down a missing author.
But to get back to the review: our trio arrives at the Cârța Monastery — a quite picturesque little place in the region which was not bombed during the War, unlike the movie claims. And things just go downhill from there. There are zombies, a live burial, and even a creepy old woman who manages to go undetected for what should be a good ten minutes or so — if not more — in the world of the movie. Cheap, run-of-the-mill, eggs-and-bacon-in-the-morning “horror”.
The movie does have some elements of terror, which aren’t actually even that impressive, but it relies mostly on darkness and jump scares. There are two sequences in a nearby graveyard, but for the most part relies on the interior of the Monastery.
And at long last, after what feels like a mind-numbing stretch of run-time, we finally arrive at the central plot when Irene is separated from Burke one night.
A long time ago, a Duke lived in the Monastery. He raised a demonic entity through a portal in the ground — which Burke discovers is named Valak (Bonnie Aarons), according to some books he somehow found in the grave he was buried alive in, at the same time as Irene is being told the story — before being killed by the Knights Templar. They seal it with… sigh. They seal it with the blood of
Jeremy Corbyn Jesus Christ. And then the bombs came and opened it up again. And at this point, I have questions:
- Why would the Duke do this?
- Why would the demon try to bury Burke (the berk; okay, no, he actually puts in a shift, here) alive, in the specific grave in which there is a book that reveal its name (which I understand is important to demon-doctoring)?
- What good is the blood of Jesus Christ when someone could hit the floor with a very large hammer a few times and let the damn thing out again?
- The zombies can be put down with headshots and/or fire. So… do that more often? Burn the place down to the ground floor. Then pour six feet of concrete over it?
- Why doesn’t the demon DO anything? It can touch people. It can whip people. It can interact with the environment, so why does it need to possess Irene?! And when Valak does, it does nothing but hover over its stupid pentagram.
Now, to expand on the last question, becuase it’s about things I haven’t covered: Irene learns the stories from the other nuns in the Monastery. They’re revealed to all have died long ago. The last nun to have survived was the one who killed herself in the beginning of the movie. There’s one nice — I’d even say clever — scene involving the nuns, actually, when they’re “praying together” with Irene to “ward off the evil“.
In any case, you can see I have severe issues with the plot so far.
The trio band together (can’t they just shoot Valak in the head? Or do just the minions go down when shot or beheaded?) and go after the… sigh. The blood of J.C.. They want to use it to — what’s the term? Well, they want to kill it. And: cue a boring final showdown. It involves spitting in faces, telekinesis, a reservoir of water that should have its own ecosystem, multiple possessions, and women with bags over their heads. And, of course, it ends with a set up for a sequel.
Overall: terrible. I’m going to skim through this because this has been a great big waste of my time.
- SETS: Very pretty. The set designers did a very good job. 8/10
- AUDIO: The movie’s hard to hear once in a while, and the “jump scare music” is a little too loud. I like the deep, ominous sounds that they’ve employed, but there’s little here, really. 4/10
- VISUALS: Abysmal. Half of the movie is too hard to see, and when things start to go chaotic, we start cutting between shots like it’s Taken. It’s lit either very nicely (and I stress the word “nicely”), or terribly. Some of the camerawork starts to impress, and then just lets you down. This movie certainly needed a better art department. 2/10
- PERFORMANCES: The movie shines in this department. All three leads do a solid job. No issues here. 7/10
- CREATURE DESIGN: Hilarious. Valak’s nun avatar had me holding in laughter half the time (she also requires a visit to a good dentist). It reminds me of the much-loved Petyr from What We Do in the Shadows, only less menacing. And the zombies were horribly handled. 0/10
- PLOT: Nonsensical. See above. 1/10
- DIALOGUE: Straightforward tripe. My friend was worried that she might need help with the movie (she’s only been here a few months, and is still learning to adjust to fast-spoken English), and she had zero problems, apart from the parts no one could hear. 1/10
- FRAME STORY: Couldn’t care less. 0/10
- THEATRE ATMOSPHERE: The two of us, three teenagers, and two little old ladies. One of the teenagers was constantly jumping out of his bones at everything. I’m sure one of the old ladies was snoring at one point. 10/10
A little bit of digging reveals that Valak‘s name is taken from an actual “historical” character. Still can’t be fussed. The only thing that have been executed about this movie should’ve been the movie itself.
To summarise: don’t watch this tripe. If you have a burning urge to waste your money on something, you’re better off setting it on fire than sitting through this bore-fest. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go ahead and toss this into the Magpie’s “Bucket of Doo-Doo” on her behalf. She’ll thank me when she’s seen it, tomorrow.
But, it was a good day out, in the end, even though we ended up sitting through two disappointing movies. And in true fashion, I’ve decided to bring the lesser one to you, first. I’ll move on to The Predator in due time, once I’ve tried chasing up our missing author a little more.
It’s a good night to write, by my standards. It’s pitch dark outside, the neighbours have suddenly gone quiet, and it even looks like there’s going to be one hell of a storm, soon.
I just wonder who that is by my hedge.
Is that a… burqa? Or a… habit?
Who knows? It’s probably just the Azure-Winged Magpie walking around with a sheet over her head again. Anyway. I’ll go get the door for her.
The Review Ends Here
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 1/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 1.5/10
Here’s the official poster: