Some equanimity may not go a long way in this prequel to The Conjuring and its sequel where the eponymous disturbing figure first emerged.
The Nun is mostly a sternly grave affair and risible enough when referring to a highly venerated figure, but for all of its peril this isn’t formidable, opportunistic spine-chilling cinema.
Fitting atmosphere is provided from the early Gothic-like 1950s Romanian set-pieces at St. Carta’s convent when two of its servants are fending off a wraith. Local farmer denizen Frenchie (an active Jonas Bloquet) discovers one of them hung during a delivery run. The Vatican then commissions Fr. Burke (Demian Bichir of Alien: Covenant) to get to the bottom of the matter. Since the nunnery is sequestered trainee Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga of Higher Ground, The Bling Ring) is recruit to assist the clergyman dealing with his own angst.
Helmsman Corin Hardy wisely pits the actress (much younger sister of Vera Farmiga who’s been Lorraine Warren in the aforementioned superior entries) who provides uninhibited appeal opposite Bichir’s weighty preceptor even if the material isn’t very character-friendly. Pretty standard stuff for a low-budget commercial creep-show as the satanic antagonist Valak (Bonnie Aarons) has that unspectacular disquieting demeanor.
Catholicism, World War II, and early depravity are united in unconvincing fashion as much sauntering occurs — from woods, a cemetery (chaperoned by Frenchie) to the expansive abbey where the pale grey look imparted by the unlit dreariness dominates in the search for any existing convent dwellers. What is the source of the malevolent mayhem as thrusting jump-scares are employed?
The daubed nature of a creaky haunted house tale is essentially interested in where the franchise is going in union with The Conjuring and the two Annabelle movies. Even as a less singular and taut segment isn’t canny with its venomously prowling Valak in the midst of stealthy burnished cassocks, roods, sacrificial tables, not to mention a trembling novitiate.