The only studio that’s managed to build an interesting cinematic universe beside Marvel is Warner who’s “The Conjuring” cinematic universe has been a long stretch of movies varying in quality. The interconnected movie verse takes Valak the horrific nun from “The Conjuring 2” and gives her own film. What should have been an easy scare fest lending a spotlight to one of the most memorable monsters in “The Conjuring 2” ends up as yet another miss like “Annabelle.” I don’t know why it’s so tough for the producers of the “Conjuring” cinematic universe to produce spin offs for their series’ monsters.
After a nun at a local Romanian abbey commits suicide, young Irene, a potential nun struggling with her faith, and jaded holy man Father Burke with a haunted past are called upon by the church to investigate. The nun’s apparent suicide is only one of the horrendous incidents in the abbey, where the alleged demonic entity of a nun known as Valak has been unleashed. With Valak tainting the land with her evil, Irene and Burke have to figure out how to stop Valak once and for all, while retaining their own humanity when confronted with her power.
The producers pack their all in to “The Conjuring” movies which end up being complex, scary, and gripping horror dramas. Then they turn their best monsters in to considerably schlocky boogey men that don’t do much at all. It took a huge step back for the producers to save Annabelle, and Valak is the latest victim. What could have and should have been a dread soaked tale of pure horror ends up as horror outing that’s just okay. It’s not great, not even worth recommending, but compared to “Annabelle” is a fucking masterpiece. And that’s not much of a high bar, I know. “The Nun” accomplishes so little in its entire run time, offering no clarity as to what Valak is, where the demon is from, and what their whole intent is. There’s also the bizarre casting of Taissa Farmiga, sister of “The Conjuring” series’ star Vera Farmiga, as the protagonist Sister Irene.
Everyone assumed this was kind of a clue that the writers were going somewhere with this, but surprisingly absolutely zero is done with this element. It’s just stunt casting that requires knowledge of the Farmiga sisters. Granted, Taissa Farmiga is a charming and strong performer who has as much screen presence as Vera, but the movie does nothing with her. You can loosely assume (it’s never confirmed) that Valak targets Lorraine Warren because she bears a similarity to Sister Irene, but if that’s the case, that’s incredibly lazy and quite stupid. Much of “The Nun” feels so undercooked and half baked. It pours on so much mood, and dread, and Gothic atmosphere, but offers almost none of the substance and engaging narrative tropes.
I respect the writers for evoking the classic Hammer mood as a change of pace, but none of that pays off considering the main characters battling this evil have almost nothing to do. It’s literally nothing but people walking around in dark halls, and shaking at every turn. Meanwhile Valak stands behind them, creeps up behind them, and disappears for about fifty percent of her own movie. At the very least we can hope for a sequel to help us forget this botched spin off much in the way “Annabelle Creation” did, because Valak is a genuinely terrifying monster sadly stuck in a crummy movie.
The new release comes with a DVD and Digital Copy for consumers. “A New Horror Icon” is a five minute discussion of the terrifying nun Valak, with cast and crew, as well as James Wan. “Gruesome Planet” is a six minute segment covering the shooting location for the film. “The Conjuring Chronology” is a four minute look at the time line of “The Conjuring” cinematic universe with the producers. Finally there are twelve minutes of Deleted Scenes.