The Nun (2018)

CORIN HARDY

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2018, , .  Story by , , Screenplay by Gary Dauberman.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , James Wan.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .

The frightening apparition that provided the most chilling scenes of The Conjuring 2 is given her own origin story in this silly but sometimes scary horror movie.  A priest () and a postulant nun (, whose sibling Vera appears in the previous two films) are sent to an abbey in Romania where one of its holy sisters has recently sullied the grounds by committing suicide.  They arrive to discover a village terrified of the place and the evil it is said to possess, and upon moving in find themselves amid the sights of a creepy old abbess, a foggy cemetery and the ghostly appearance of the titular evil nun.  Scenes inspired by Bram Stoker and Matthew Lewis are ruined by a film that cannot decided if it is going to go the route of Hammer horror delights or the gruesome nastiness of The Exorcist, including as it does the villainy of a demon as well as a goofy male hero straight out of a Sam Raimi movie.  Much of the narrative’s internal logic is flawed, even for a horror movie with no pretensions at greatness: it’s supposed to be about how the demon became “The Nun” but leaves many key questions unanswered as to exactly how that happened, and the characters spend too much time in the dark about things that are obvious to the audience (like the living population within the walls of the abbey).  That said, a lot of the chillier scenes feature beautiful, Mario Bava-worthy cinematography and the cast is at least fully committed.

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