The nun

Sis­ters of murky… ★★☆☆☆ OUT NOW

Total Film - - Contents - Kevin Har­ley

The Con­jur­ing cin­e­matic uni­verse con­tin­ues to pick up bad habits.

CER­TIFI­CATE 15 DI­REC­TOR Corin Hardy STAR­RING Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Bon­nie Aarons, Jonas Blo­quet SCREEN­PLAY Gary Dauber­man DIS­TRIB­U­TOR Warner Bros RUN­NING TIME 96 mins

Out­side of Marvel, the spook-iverse built around James Wan’s two Con­jur­ing films and de­mon-doll off­spring Annabelle is one of the few ‘ex­panded uni­verses’ in func­tion­ing shape right now. Yet acolytes’ faith might dip with this rick­ety, 1952-set pre­quel de­voted to Valak (Bon­nie Aarons), the nun-more-nasty de­mon who haunted The Con­jur­ing 2 and Annabelle: Cre­ation.

Di­rec­tor Corin Hardy milks a can­dlelit abbey for shiv­ery dread. But he’s work­ing from an ex­po­si­tion-heavy script with a flighty tone and a flimsy plot, wherein ex­or­cist Fa­ther Burke (Demián Bichir), novi­tiate Sis­ter Irene (Taissa Farmiga) and lo­cal rogue Frenchie (Jonas Blo­quet) visit the trou­bled nun-base to check how holy it is. Clue: not very.

Though char­ac­ter foibles (guilt, naïvety, lust) are seeded, these are side­lined as each player gets spooked in turn by de­monic iconog­ra­phy. Wonky cru­ci­fixes, head­less Je­suses, snake-spew­ing devil kids – they’re all here, hoary as hell. As the in­evitable Valak face-off dom­i­nates a ca­cophonous cli­max, Frenchie’s one-lin­ers and the screech­ing scares seem locked in con­flict over who can creak loud­est. The slam-bang silli­ness pales be­side 2018’s hor­ror high-rankers.

THE VER­DICT

The Nun’s rack­ety scares and hack­neyed horrors groan badly. Only the moody, me­nac­ing set­ting in­spires be­lief.

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