Blu-ray Review: The Nun (2018)

By , Contributor
Thanks largely to a goosebump-inducing trailer and its association with the mega-popular Conjuring horror franchise, The Nun raked in a ton of cash during its early-fall 2018 theatrical release. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment now presents the scarefest on home video, available on Blu-ray (also 4K UltraHD). The sophomore effort by director Corin Hardy (his debut was the 2015 UK-production The Hallow) was met with rather savage reviews, but at this point the Conjuring-verse is pretty much critic-proof.

The sad fact is, much of the negativity was justified as The Nun is pretty much a non-starter. Even the scares that seemed so effective in the trailer feel flat in context of the full feature. Not a proper sequel to The Conjuring 2, this is actually a 1952-set prequel (of sorts) that explains the origins of that film's Valek (Bonnie Aarons in both films), who notably tortured Ed and Lorraine Warren (there's some archival footage re-purposed here to tie the films together, but its pretty clumsy).

The issue with The Nun is that everyone involved seems to be aiming squarely for "good enough" rather than the quality level achieved by both Conjuring movies (as well as the solid Annabelle: Creation). Story-wise, the body of a nun who hanged herself at the Gothic Saint Cartha's monastery is discovered by secular errand boy Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet). Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, sister of Conjuring-verse vet Vera) and Father Burke (Demián Bichir) come to the monastery to uncover the reasons behind the suicide

They soon discover the place is possessed by the spirit of titular nun Valek. The priest and the young newbie nun join forces and—with an assist from Frenchie, who has designs on Irene—try to defeat Valek. Some appropriately spooky atmospherics are not enough to keep this creaky formula interesting. And why Taissa Farmiga, who is significantly younger than her sister Vera but a dead ringer nonetheless, was cast with apparently no intention of tying her character to Lorraine Warren is the film's most intriguing mystery.

Warner Bros.' Blu-ray edition includes about ten minutes of deleted scenes and three featurettes: "A New Horror Icon" (wishful thinking, that), "The Conjuring Chronology" (recapping the film-film, and counting, series), and "Gruesome Planet."

The Nun is far from unwatchable as cheap-thrills fright flicks go (and mercifully brief at 96 minutes), but recommended primarily to Conjuring completists.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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