Preface: Because of how terrible The Nun was, I’ll be using images from Sister Act rather than any images from the film itself. Since I started laughing at its attempts to scare me partway through, I think this is appropriate.
It’s an old illustration that suspense is the ticking countdown on a bomb that may go off, surprise is a bomb you didn’t know about exploding in your face. That being the case, The Nun started to feel like the feeble attempts of a sophomore prankster trying repeatedly to catch me off guard with explosions without any artfulness at setting a timer to instill some dread.
The film has a loose plot of a cursed abbey being investigated, evil run rampant, and on that feeble base it can only build the rickety edifices of jump scares and pop up screeching demons. It’s a shame, because I’m a fan of horror. If I’m guilty of any masochism (we don’t kink shame here), it’s that I love a good supernatural horror movie that leaves me uneasy about the stray creaks and noises of my apartment for days after.
The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity were masterclass at establishing this dread. They were patient films that established a tone of normality that was slowly drained away, first by seemingly normal and easily excusable incidents- the kind we all see every day- and eventually by the indisputably fantastic and demonic. Even Alien knew that hiding the monster as much as possible let your mind create the terror of not only where it could be but also what it could be was the smarter approach.
The aforementioned films each bring you along their character’s journeys as we identify with that bump in the night we assume must be a rodent, and then as it ramps up slowly to more and more until what you’re left with is a sense of dread and horror at what might be, rather than the cheap jump of seeing the monster shout at you.
The Nun is a waste of time purely because there is none of that dread. The abbey’s evil is blatant and unmeasured- vomited onto the viewer with a reckless abandon and lack of restraint I’d quicker compare to the Jackass films- but even they save their best stunts for last.
I don’t grade on here, but suffice to say this isn’t a film worth your money or time. Stay in and rent a classic horror film instead, and if you really need to leave the house give bowling a try before you consider seeing this.