The Conjuring Universe delivers us some box office evil with “The Nun”
For movie makers, shakers, lovers, and celebs, September is one of the busiest months of the year, especially here in Toronto. From the hustle and bustle of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), to the onslaught of horror/thrillers being released in time for Halloween – Searching (out now,) Peppermint (out now), A Simple Favour (Sept. 14), and both Predator (Sept. 13) and Halloween (Oct. 19) debuting at TIFF – there are so many great movies being released!
So where does the fifth movie in The Conjuring Universe fit into all of this major motion picture hoopla? It’s obvious The Nun didn’t need to pray for a successful opening. Instead, it latched onto its connection to The Conjuring Universe, which has a solid backbone and an even stronger fan base.
Firstly, it’s the number one movie in North America at the moment, debuting with $53.5 million in domestic ticket sales and $77.5 million worldwide. Not too shabby for a convoluted spin-off with a cloudy backstory. Even after “controversial” ads for the film were removed from YouTube for being “too scary,” the media coverage only contributed to The Nun’s hype, and now, she stands tall as the number one movie in the world.
This is yet another win for Warner Bros. Studios as they’ve taken a backseat to Disney Studios for the majority of 2018. But with The Nun, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Meg in the current Top 5 at the end of summer movie season, and A Star Is Born, Aquaman, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewand opening this Fall/Winter movie season, Warner Bros. is the only major motion picture studio giving Disney a run for its money. And when it comes to horror, Warner Bros. is leading the pack.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Conjuring Universe, you have some catching up to do. The Nun is the fifth movie to spawn from the original, simply titled The Conjuring, about a real-life paranormal investigative couple – Ed (Patrick Wilson, Insidious: The Last Key) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga, TV’s Bates Motel) – who worked tirelessly to help a family being terrorized by a dark entity in their farmhouse. The true tales behind the movie magic intrigued audiences worldwide, making the first two “Conjuring” movies among the most successful horror movies of all time. But since the first movie’s initial release in 2013, it appears each “Conjuring” movie since has relied less on storytelling and character development and more on jump-scares, cheap shots, and open-ended final scenes that clear the way for yet another sequel.
After the first two films, The Conjuring Universe began producing spinoffs, and while both 2014’s Annabelle and 2017’s Annabelle: Creation did well at the box office, the franchise began oversaturating their films with lacklustre tie-ins and underwhelming bumps in the night; The Nun is no different.
Directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) and written by Gary Dauberman (IT, Annabelle) with horror guru James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw, Insidious), The Nun is set in 1952 and focuses on a priest with a haunted past (Father Burke, played by Demián Bichir 0f Alien: Covenant), and a novice on the threshold of her final vows (Sister Irene played by Taissa Farmiga, Vera Farmiga’s younger sister), who are sent by the Vatican to investigate the gruesome death of a young nun in Romania.
Once they arrive, they must assess and confront an ancient and malevolent force that takes the form of a demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in The Conjuring 2. Frenchie, a local French-Canadian delivery man (Jonas Bloquet, Valerian) discovers a nun’s body at the monastery and is asked to accompany both Father Burke and Sister Irene into the depths of the forest to find the source of the evil. Frenchie is also the film’s comedic relief with some endearing one-liners and action sequences. The rest of the film plays out like a 1h 32m haunted house experience sporting endless darkened, cross-bearing hallways, tunnels and corridors, with God knows what hiding in the shadows.
The acting, setting, cinematography and visual effects are (without question) stronger than the plot and character development, which is disappointing, and only a few hair-raising moments stand out from the film, which is starting to become a habit in the franchise. Regardless, whether you love, hate, or could care less about these films, The Nun has established its title as the most successful opening weekend of all five “Conjuring” movies. Don’t be surprised if “The Nun 2” gets a green light along with the already confirmed Annabelle 3, The Conjuring 3, and The Crooked Man.
Overall, The Nun is more of an experience than a movie, and while it may not meet the expectations of horror fans everywhere, it’s still an enjoyable horror movie experience to help kick off the Halloween movie season. But watch out, Nun, Michael Myers is coming for the crown.
“Pray For Forgiveness.”
3 Popcorn Kernels / 5
TIP: Sit closer to the screen to feel emerged into the film – many scenes lead down spooky hallways and are filmed in a way that makes you feel you’re in a haunted house!
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.