Film: The Nun
Cast: Damian Birchir, Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons, Jonas Bloquet
Director: Corin Hardy
Rating: * * *
Like the NYC building positioned over the gateway between our world and hell in Jeffrey Konvitz’s novel The Sentinel, the erstwhile castle of a Satan-worshipping Romanian Duke, now housing cloistered nuns, is the setting for this intensely spooky and scary prequel to The Conjuring. Directed by Corin Hardy from a screenplay written by Gary Dauberman who may or may not have been inspired by Konvitz’s 1974 novel, The Nun is driven by the titular terrifying creature whom viewers first noticed in the basement of the haunted house in the aforementioned Conjuring.
This narrative revolves around that demon-nun whose name we learn is a Valak (Bonnie Aarons) who terrorises the abbey, extending her malevolence to the little village located not too far away. When a young nun clutching an ancient key is found hanged (and dreadfully disfigured by ravens) in the Abbey by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) , a young villager who ferries food supplies to the nuns, the Vatican despatches exorcist Father Burke (Damian Birchir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a cheerful novice, to investigate the “suicide” .
The medieval castle we learn was cleansed and sanctified by Christian knights with the help of a relic containing the blood of the crucified Christ and turned into a cloistered convent. But World War II bombing shook the foundations to release the demon, an ashen-faced, yellow eyed ghoul who savages its victims. The world is full of violence; grim, gory and far from the deceptive process played out in this Gothic horrorscape.
The Nun alarms us with faulty theology (nuns pray without ceasing in a chapel devoid of the Blessed Sacrament!) Mercifully, it doesn’t resort to cheap blasphemy as many other films do. It incessantly assaults us with loud, admittedly Oscar worthy atmospherics. Nightmares, hallucinations, gory killings, ghouls and things that go bump in the night to the background of thunderous percussion and bass voices droning.