Movie Review: The NUN

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nun, theWarner Bros. Pictures

“What’s the opposite of a miracle, Father?”

You have to admire how many movies James Wan can squeeze out of The Conjuring franchise. The first two Conjuring movies proper, then two Annabelle movies, and now a movie involving that freaky nun that was in The Conjuring 2. And like the Annabelle spinoffs, The Nun is a prequel to all of the movies in the series, making this one the first in the overall series, story-wise.

Anyway, I was looking forward to checking out The Nun when it was set to come out in the theaters in September. I thought that the very brief yet very memorable scenes with the nun in The Conjuring 2 was the best parts of that movie, and was curious what story they could tell with this one. But, because scheduling and the less-than-favorable reports coming in from the various review blogs, vlogs and podcasts I read/watch/listen to, I decided ultimately that The Nun was going to be one of those movies I would watch when it became available on on digital rental format. Which is now.

So, was The Nun a snooze-fest? A predictable, nothing-but-jump-scares waste of my time? Well, let’s get the rundown out of the way, here, and find out…

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

Overall, despite all of the negative reviews this movie got when it was first released in theaters, I did enjoy The Nun more than I thought I would. It was more on a Hammer-style Gothic B-horror movie level, which is probably the best way to come at these type of movies. The use of the settings, the shadows and atmosphere was utilized to great effect; the story was a slow-build mystery that, while a tad on the predictable side, managed to throw in some twists and turns throughout the run time. Of course, The Nun isn’t what you would call a “scary movie”, as what it does for actual scares are more boo-scares than anything else; as I mentioned before, if you take in the very Gothic atmosphere and setup (and get past thinking the possessed nun is Marilyn Manson in Catholic cosplay), you may find that The Nun can get under your skin pretty effectively.

Not as bad as everybody is saying it is, The Nun is very much worth a rental on some dark, cold and rainy night.


Movie Review: The CONJURING 2

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conjuring 2Warner Bros. Pictures

“There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. The crooked man stepped forth, and rang the crooked bell. And thus his crooked soul spiraled into a crooked Hell. Murdered his crooked family, and laughed a crooked laugh…”

So, here we are, three years removed from James Wan’s fantastic period horror flick The Conjuring, with a direct sequel that finds the paranormal dynamic duo of Ed and Lorraine Warren flying off to jolly ol’ England to investigate a case of a violent haunting of a 14-year-old girl by what can only be described as a creepy old man ghost. Well, there’s more to it than just that. Which is to say, possible spoilers ahead, mates.

It all starts with a bit of a prologue, with the Warrens investigating the infamous Amityville house shortly after the events depicted in the movie (whichever one you want to go with, it doesn’t matter; just not the sequels). There, while astral-projecting, Mrs. Warren encounters a bunch of creepy ghost children and a Marilyn Manson-looking demonic entity that’s really into nun cosplay, plus a few other things that freaks her out quite a bit. About a year later, across the pond in London, a family begins to experience paranormal wackiness after the 14-year-old messes around with a homemade Ouija…er, I mean “spirit board” (in case anyone from the Hasbro corporation is reading this). It starts off whimsically enough–sleepwalking, toys, radios and the television operating by themselves, remote controls teleporting to a worn-out chair in the corner. You know, your typical Saturday afternoon at the Uncle NecRo homestead. Soon, though, it’s clear that an entity named “Bill” is having some malicious fun with them, and using the 14-year-old as his meat puppet in the process. And thus, the Warrens are called in to investigate if it’s a genuine paranormal event, or if it was a hoax. And then the shock rock nun shows up again. Wackiness ensues. Also, a lot of rain, for some reason.

Overall, I would have to say that, if you put aside the whole “based on a real story” and the fact that the veracity of the real Warrens’ is less than credible at best, The Conjuring 2 is another fairly decent ghost story that hits on most of the standard tropes, with a good cast and some decent atmospherics to add to the story. Again, I approached The Conjuring 2 as a fictional movie in and of itself, and I enjoyed it for what that was. Worth a rental.

Movie Review: ANNABELLE: Creation

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annabelle creationNew Line Cinema

“Forgive me, Father, for I am about to sin.”

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

I remember watching the first Annabelle in the theaters when it came out. I also remember being quite underwhelmed with it, not finding it very effective as a horror movie, despite my aversion to dolls. Yeah, that’s a thing for me, and something that my sister gleefully uses for evil every chance she gets. I would expect nothing less from my sibling. Anyway, it was this rather lukewarm reception of the original spinoff of the otherwise fantastic The Conjuring series that made me wait until this sequel was released on DVD for a rental to watch. No way I was spending monies to watch this in the theater, and I completely missed my chance to catch it in the second-run theater when it made a very brief appearance there. But, rent and watch this prequel to a prequel I did. And the result is maybe slightly better than what I experienced with the first Annabelle movie.

Our story begins in the 1940s, where a toymaker and his family are hit with a sudden tragedy (I swear that wasn’t an intentional pun) when his young daughter, Annabelle, is hit by a truck and killed. Fast forward to the mid-1950s, and the Toymaker and his now-invalid wife open up their house to six orphan girls and the Nun in charge of them, due to their orphanage being closed for…reasons. One of the girls — Janice — was crippled by polio, but can go upstairs and downstairs due to a nifty electric chair lift installed some time earlier. Anyway, all the rooms are available for the girls, except for two: The master bedroom where the wife has been laid up in, and the bedroom of the deceased daughter, which has been locked for a long time. Of course, faster than you can say “Why is everyone drawn to my Forbidden Closet of Mystery?”, little Janice manages to go inside the heretofore locked daughter’s room, finds a key, and unlocks the closet to reveal that creepy freaking doll that is the gleeful, soulless mascot of this prequel series. Pretty much immediately, weird creepy things begin happening, which results in little Janice to become possessed by the entity that was originally possessing the doll, an entity that the Toymaker and his wife reveal they summoned because, in their grief of losing their little Annabelle, they thought they were getting access to the girl’s ghost, but instead got a rather nasty demon instead.

See, this is what happens when you start messing around with the occult, people. I digress…

Anyway, after an evening of battling supernatural evil shenanigans (which result in the Toymaker and his wife dying at the hands of the demon, of which I have been referring to as “Skippy” while watching), they manage to trap Janice and the doll back in that closet, of which doesn’t please Skippy. But then the house is cleansed by a priest, but Janice seems to have escaped. Of course, Janice winds up at another orphanage, is now going by Annabelle, and is adopted by the family that will lead into the beginning of the first Annabelle. The end.

Overall, there were a lot of factors that made Annabelle: Creation more enjoyable than the first Annabelle. Better use of suspense and atmosphere, the characters having much more depth and texture, and it seems to hit the right balance between slow-burn horror and guerilla style shock scare horror to make this entry in the Conjuring franchise one of the best ones in there.

Annabelle: Creation is far from the perfect modern horror movie, but it hits all the right notes and what we end up with is a far more effective horror movie than the original that came before. Worth checking out.