“The Nun” answers audiences’ prayers

The unlikely success story of the latest Conjuring film


Warner Bros.

“The Nun” is the fifth installment in James Wan’s Conjuring universe. The film is to be followed with yet another sequel to “Annabelle,” which will take place after the first Conjuring film.

Brock Spence, Guest Writer

I have a love-hate relationship with the critically acclaimed yet largely disdained director, producer, and screenwriter James Wan. A man of many talents, Wan has demonstrated excellence in his creation of the Saw, Insidious, and Conjuring franchises but his Achilles’ heel is not knowing when to stop. Did anyone actually want eight films about torture? Was one movie about a creepy doll not enough? Was there ever a need to write a sequel to a prequel?

In case you were wondering, the answer is no. For this reason, I was disappointed when it was announced that a film focusing on Valak, the demon from “The Conjuring 2,” was announced as the next addition to Wan’s Conjuring universe. Valak was easily the best (and most terrifying) part of  “The Conjuring 2,” but given Wan’s track record with needles sequels there was no reason for this to be a good film.

Nadia Ghirardini via Flickr
FIlming for “The Nun” took place in Castel Film Studios, the Romanian Palace of Parliament, and the Corvin Castle (pictured). Director Corin Hardy believes the castle is actually haunted and claims to have experienced paranormal phenomena during production.

I became cautiously optimistic when it was announced that “The Nun” would be helmed by the relatively fresh Corin Hardy. Hardy had only previously directed “The Hollow” and worked in special effects. From a young age, Hardy was passionate about film. In his childhood, Hardy passed time by making his own creature features with a Super-8 camera. All things considered, Hardy seemed like a real fan of the industry and the perfect person for the job.

Horror is a niche genre, ruled by power houses like Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock and James Wan, but newcomers such as Jordan Peele and John Krasinski were knocking the socks off the tired standards set by their predecessors. I was excited to see what Hardy had to offer amid all this change. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

“The Nun” takes place in 1952 set around a beautiful Romanian castle that serves not just as a simple backdrop, but instead comes to the forefront of the film (not like “Monster House,” don’t get excited). The halls of Corvin Castle are eerie, yet stunning, and both its interior and exterior added to the film in a way that a similar Hollywood set never could. Maxime Alexandre led cinematography for the film and shined in her use of contrast and lighting to build tension.

The film delves into the backstory of Valak as the demon terrorizes the remains of a reclusive convent in the Romanian wilderness. Following the discovery of a nun who had killed herself at the convent, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) and Father Burke (Demian Bichir) are sent by the Vatican to investigate. The duo is joined by the Romanian delivery boy responsible for the discovery of the nun, Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault (Jonas Bloquet).

The trio faces off against Valak while trying to decipher the dark nature of the chapel. Hardy wastes no time in throwing his characters into the action, with the lives of the characters in jeopardy immediately upon their arrival. Hardy weaves an interesting storyline with terrifying jump scares and chase sequences to produce a thrill ride audiences will not tire of.

Most importantly, Hardy does not forget his characters in an effort to scare. Each character is fleshed out and given life. Audiences will surely fall in love with the cast and want to see them succeed.

Warner Bros.
“The Nun” kicked off last weekend with a $54 million box-office opening. In doing so, the film set the record for any Conjuring film thus far.

The script is definitely above average for horror films as of late, and the cast does a terrific job delivering both the tense moments and the comedic relief without any bathos. No glaring plot holes stuck out — unless you count Irene’s uncanny resemblance to Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). Plot threads were tied together neatly in the film’s conclusion. I found the protagonists to be significantly more interesting than the rather vanilla Warren family from the original Conjuring films and hope to see their return for an additional spin-off in the future.

The relative predictability of the scenario creates one overall flaw. Fans of the Conjuring will already have an idea of the outcome, but Hardy still manages to produce shocking twists to the story while building on the mythos of both Conjuring films. Die-hard fans and people new to the Conjuring universe will be able to find something to enjoy here.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with the latest Conjuring film. After the disastrous “Annabelle: Creation,” I was ready to write off the Conjuring films all together, but alas, not all is bleak for the franchise. If Wan continues to pass the reigns to talented creators from a wide range of backgrounds, it will be entirely possible to tell more stories within his world without sacrificing quality. For once, it might not be time for Wan to stop.