The Nun and a Night at the Regal
This past Friday I went out to do something I love to do on the weekends, see a movie at the theatre with my girlfriend. Even better, we were going to see a movie from one of our favorite horror movie franchises. “The Nun” is the 5th installment of “The Conjuring” franchise. We went to the Regal Town Center on Friday night at 9 pm, so naturally, the theatre was quite crowded. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle that surrounded the retro style theatre on humid September night. The theatre is lit by neon lights and the inside is devoid of any fancy bars or dining areas that I see so much in newer theatres. The classic style of the theatre makes it one of my favorites to go to in the area. After taking in the vintage elements of the theatre, we somehow found our way to the snack bar, even though I swear to myself every time before going to the movie theatre I will not drain my wallet for subpar popcorn. For some reason, I find it hard to sit in the theatre and not have the salty and refreshing qualities of a popcorn and Coke. So after sparing nearly 20 dollars, we found our way to our theatre. On the way, we took some silly photos in a mirror on a ceiling and started to consume the unfortunately stale popcorn. The theatre was crowded, but we found a perfect spot right in the middle. We entered right as the trailers were coming to an end and we were excited for another thrilling horror movie together.
The movie centers around Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) investigating the mysterious suicide of a nun at a cathedral in Romania. This first choice seems significant by director Corin Hardy. The nun who dies, in the beginning, dies at the hand of Valak, the evil and possessed nun. It would have been just as easy to have Valak kill the nun herself but instead, she is cornered into committing suicide, which is a major sin in the Catholic community. This gives the movie a much larger sense of mystery and genuine fear. There is something about the image of a nun committing suicide that sends chills up my spine. To commit a sin as colossal as suicide for a nun is essentially sending yourself to hell. This act establishes the power and fear that Valak has over people early on in the film. She is powerful enough to make a nun, whose sole purpose in life is to live out a holy life, give up her entire faith and commit an immense sin.
So, the movie starts out with great suspense, fear, and meaning and soon after the audience is greeted with some amazing cinematography of the Vatican. It is in this setting where Father Burke recruits Sister Irene for the investigation. It comes as a great surprise to Sister Irene, who is a soon to be nun who has not yet completed her vows, that she is the one to accompany an established priest like Father Burke. Addimetly, it is a very odd pair. On one hand, you have Father Burke who has been on many investigations and performed countless exorcisms. And then there is Sister Irene, who spends her days in as a demure teacher of young students of a Catholic school. The decision to pair these polar opposite characters makes sense from a filmmakers perspective, but logically it makes little sense. The movie establishes that it is exceedingly rare for a sister who has yet to take her vows to be asked to be a part of one of these investigations.
This movie had so many constant scares that it actually became less scary. For me, what makes a scary movie even scarier, is by establishing some sense of normalcy in the film. By ditching that and leaving the audience in a world that is consumed by constant scares, loud noises, and demons coming out of nowhere, you lose any opportunity to truly surprise the audience. This is where “The Nun” failed majorly. It was a component I was expecting to see because the other movies of this franchise do such a great job of scaring you when you least expect it. In “The Nun”, for the final hour of the film, you are always expecting a scare.
For fans of “The Conjuring” or just horror fans and general, this is not a movie to avoid. Although it lacks some of the qualities of the premiere horror movies, it still provides honest performances from the entire cast, some genuine scares, and a truly interesting twist ending. Moreover, it does what it set out to do, provide an acceptable backstory for Valak, a character who has been scaring audiences and myself since “The Conjuring 2” came out in 2016. The makeup design for that character is enough to scare an audience thoroughly, but the film certainly missed out on the great potential it had by resorting to far too many scares.
“The Nun” may have been a slightly disappointing film, but my night at The Regal was not. Despite some stale popcorn, the theatre is very well maintained and possesses the classic and comfortable qualities that a movie theatre should and I am excited to go back very soon.