Starring Belén Blanco, Oriana Bonet, Anita Briem, Teté Delgado, Natalia Dicenta, Alistair Freeland, Manu Fullola, Paulina Gálvez, Lola Marceli, Cristina Piaget, and Montse Pla
Directed by Luis De La Madrid
Distributed by Lionsgate
I have three irrational fears for which I have no explanation. The first is heights, the second is bugs, and the third and most terrifying of all is nuns. Before you ask, no, I did not go to Catholic school, and truth be told I have never had a bad experience with a nun. There’s just something about these habit-wearing hags that screams EVIL to me. Nuns can be found strewn within our genre in many films, but to this day there’s never been a truly scary evil nun movie. The Convent came close to being the definitive one, but in the end its comedic roots kept it from delivering any real chills. Enter Brian Yuzna’s Fantastic Factory / Filmax Group. When I first saw the trailer for The Nun, I had to admit the shit looked really scary. It didn’t give away much, but it was clear that the people behind this latest terror trip were going for the throat. I mustered up all of my courage and popped in the DVD.
The story starts with a group of boarding school girls in Spain that have a knack for getting harassed by their teacher, Sister Ursula. Fast forward eighteen years, and the same chicks are all grown up. Even though they’ve all (for the most part) gone their separate ways, they end up drawn back together again once they begin to fall prey to the vengeful spirit of the nun. What’s this ghostie so pissed off about you ask? Well to go into detail would spoil it for you, so you’re on your own for now. Shorty after a party the daughter of one of the women returns home just in time to witness her mother getting her throat slashed by the spectre. Distraught and confused about what she has just witnessed, she decides to investigate her mother’s life and death a bit further, and her inquiries lead her back to her mom and Sister Ursula’s old stomping ground in Barcelona. From there it is game-on as the bodies start dropping and the plot begins to slowly unfold.
The first thing you will notice about The Nun is that the film has a very polished look to it. Every cent of this film’s budget is clearly up on the screen. First-time director Luis De La Madrid does a superb job of pacing and building dread and tension. Seeing the spirit of the nun for the first time is something the viewer will not likely forget anytime soon. Her appearance is startling and horrifically cool. Some may argue that there is a bit of a Dark Water / The Ring type feel to her unearthly antics as her spirit manifests itself via good old H2O, but make no mistake, this is not the meek ghost that haunted the ever-so-wooden Jennifer Connelly during her romp through Asian remake land. This nun is pure violent malevolence, and her spirit effects are some of the best I’ve seen in quite a long time. There are scenes in this film that will sear themselves into your memory. Visages of terror that at times are nothing short of a beautiful nightmare. However, the film stumbles a bit along the way to its sketchy conclusion.
The first half of The Nun is exceptional, but somewhere within the second or third act it starts falling into the all too familiar cliche horror pitfalls. For example, it’s discovered that one of the characters will meet her demise by being stuffed into an oven. What does she do? She bolts for the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blood hungry when it comes to this genre, but blatant stupidity is inexcusable. It’s a real shame too. Things were moving along nicely until the victims put their brains on auto-pilot for the endless chase-around-the-convent finale.
What sets The Nun apart from its usual direct-to-video brethren is the strength of its story. Shortcomings aside, this tale, written by Jaume (The Nameless, Darkness) Balagueró, is riddled with the types of twists and turns that will keep viewers on their toes. Things unfold for the audience at a very deliberate pace, and the film-makers are careful not to give away too much at any one time. That’s all fine, well, and good; but things get a bit confusing during the final five minutes of exposition. In fact, I had to rewind and watch it twice just to make sure I got a handle on exactly what happened. (Too much thinking makes Creepy’s head hurt. Ugh!)
The supplemental side of things isn’t exactly plentiful either. We get a nine-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film and a trailer gallery. Not much to talk about, but please allow me a moment to bitch. One of the most common special features to be found on a DVD are subtitles. This film could really have used them too. All the characters speak English, but some have thick accents at times. I was really into the movie, but I simply could not understand some of the dialogue no matter how many times I rewound a scene. This, coupled with the fact that the sound mix was a little off in terms of the volume of the actors’ voices being drowned out by the sound effects and music, made watching The Nun a frustrating audio experience. Guys, please, next time make with the subs. Thanks.
Hollywood horror has turned into a PG-13 rated landscape, and as a result you may find yourself liking films like The Nun a bit more than you should. All in all, The Nun can be a fairly fulfilling horror experience. The scares are as visceral as they should be, and there’s even some good old fashioned gore thrown in to boot. Man, I can still see that ghastly habit-clad demon floating about in my mind. How the fuck am I supposed to sleep tonight!? *turns on night ight*
Nuns. Evil. Wicked. Things.
3 out of 5
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