Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘The Nun’ is a terrifyingly bad movie

Jump scares do not make a horror movie scary
(Courtesy of The Nun Official Facebook page)

“The Nun,”the fifth movie in the immensely popular Conjuring Cinematic Universe, centers around one of the main antagonists from James Wan’s “Conjuring 2.” Set in the mid-1950s, the movie’s plotline details an encounter with the demon entity, Valek, in a monastery deep in the woods of Romania.

The film begins with an establishment of the potential threat Valek imposes. The demon quickly disposes of one of the two nuns who attempt to contain its evil presence. Before Valek is able to possess the body of the remaining nun, she chooses to commit suicide and hangs herself in front of the church. The plot of the film launches when a local farmer, Frenchie, discovers the deceased nun. Upon hearing of the nun’s death, the Vatican enlists the help of Father Burke, a priest with a dark past, and Sister Irene, a novitiate – a nun who has yet to take her vows. These two embark to the monastery to determine the mysterious death of the nun, unaware of the malevolent being trapped in its walls.

The demon nun Valek was previously featured in a five-minute sequence in the “Conjuring 2” film that uses the monster’s most terrifying features to its advantage. With the bar set rather high on the potential of a movie with a genuinely scary creature, does it deliver?

Unfortunately, no. “The Nun” is an abysmally boring and generic horror movie.

The film has a few good qualities, the first being the performances. The two main actors, Demián Bichirand and Jonas Bloquet, and main actress Taissa Farmiga all give rather respectable performances with the material they are given and often outshine the main villain. The second, and unfortunately final, commendable quality is the setting and atmosphere the movie creates. The dark and dreary monastery is a chilling and eerie environment through its combination of dilapidated ruins and religious aesthetic.

Ultimately, the movie fails on almost every level besides that. The movie’s biggest mistake is its complete lack of understanding the fundamentals of executing a horror movie scare. The film does not once illicit any moment of fear or even slight unease. Its missteps in this area are due to its absurd over-reliance on jump scares. This horror tactic can be extremely effective when done correctly, however almost every single scare in the film is predictable. It follows the exact same pattern each time, almost as if the characters are set on a fixed rail path at a horror amusement park. Valek’s terrifying qualities are eliminated due to this treatment. The film never once utilizes its unsettling atmosphere to its advantage and often chooses to have loud, chaotic and dull scares instead. The antagonist in “The Nun” also falls into recent horror movie tropes of never actually doing anything that makes sense. The film establishes very early on that Valek’s main goal is to possess the body of a living person, however, it does things that seem to negate its goal. During the film, there is a scene where Valek bends reality to entrap a character underground in a coffin, yet it gives the character a way to escape, thus putting into question its intent. If it wanted to kill the character, which it seemed to have the ability to, then why provide a way to survive? It simply does not make sense.

Besides the irritating overuse of jump scares and lack of clarity with the powers and purpose of the antagonist, the film has massive narrative faults as well. The characters often make large jumps in logic in order to propel the plot forward and to give exposition to the audience. It destroys the immersion in the film because the audience begins to question how exactly these characters can make these conclusions based on their situation. The movie thankfully has a short runtime so scenes often won’t continue for too long and the film flies through at a brisk pace.

In the end, the only thing truly terrifying about “The Nun” is its wasted potential.

Tyler Clardy can be reached at [email protected]

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    AOct 8, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    I actually thought it was extremely scary and it gave me nightmares. I literally could not walk into a room without the light on for quite a while after watching it. And I’ve never reacted to a horror movie in this way before – having watched most mainstream horror movies