The Nun (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

The Nun (2018)

Film: At some time, earlier this century, someone in Hollywood decided that movies with ‘real’ killers, like slashers and so-called torture porn, were no longer in vogue, and that the cinema going kids needed to be afraid of the supernatural again, and of things that are associated with the bible and western religions. Is Hollywood trying to scare kids back to church? I’m not so sure, but what I do know is that these films, and I am going to single out The Conjuring films (a series of which this film is a part of) and the Insidious films, are by-the-book formulaic works that are only labelled ‘horror’ by the easily frightened or those who have never been to the cinema before, and think of movies as some kind of magic performed by warlocks and witches.

This film, The Nun, is written by Gary Dauberman, who also is responsible for the two Annabelle films, but on the bright side gave us the wonderful adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and directed by Corin Hardy, the director of the horror film The Hallow, and a bunch of music clips. It all, of course, takes place in the fictional world created by Chad and Carey Hayes for the original Conjuring film, directed by James Wan.

This film, though, tells of a priest, Father Burke (Demian Bichir doing is very best Father Karras from the Exorcist impression) and a mildly psychic novice nun, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who are sent into the woods of the Romanian countryside to investigate the apparent suicide of a DIFFERENT nun, but the convent they are visiting has a terrible secret, and along with their guide, a French-Canadian named… sigh… ‘Frenchie’ (Jonas Bloquet) they must fight against the forces of evil, embodied by a horrific figure of a yet ANOTHER Nun (Bonnie Aarons).

Taking elements from SO many films this movie struggles to find it own identity, and falls on its face with its tale. All through this film I was constantly reminded either by visual cues or by plot devices that it’s originality was somewhat lacking. It is like a mix of scenes from amazing Euro-horror films like a The Church, The Sect, the Blind Dead Series and others, I even got a Silent Hill vibe a couple of times, but without the originality, or even the honesty of those films.

The very best thing I can say about this film is it’s filmed great and the locations are exquisite. I should also point out what a striking figure that Bonnie Aarons strikes as the titular Nun: her look is quite unique and ready makes the character something special!

Unfortunately, this film is a veritable checklist of horror tropes, all making for a film that screams ‘GENERIC’ at the top of its lungs. Seriously, you could play ‘horror trope bingo’: “I’ve got ‘lights flickering off one by one in a hallway’…. BINGO!”

A blurb on the back claims ‘The Scariest Conjuring Yet’: it’s not, and out of a group of films that flat out AREN’T scary at all, that isn’t even a badge of honour, and by the way, if Nun-spoliation is your thing, this isn’t.

It’s a ‘bimbo’ film: boring, but pretty.

Score: *1/2

Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian release Bluray, which is presented in a perfect 2.40:1 image with a matching Dolby HD-DTS 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: There are 4 extras on this disc:

A New Horror Icon which explores the look and design of the Nun, and discusses her ability to be a resounding icon.

Gruesome Planet is an amazing travelogue of Romania, where this film was made, and it looks at the various castles and other locations used.

The Conjuring Chronology places the entire series (this film, the two Conjurings and the two Annabelle films) in the order of their occurrence.

There are 7 Deleted Scenes on this disc which wouldn’t make the film any better or worse if they styled in.

Score: ****

WISIA: The only way I’d ever watch this again is by accident.

Annabelle Creation (2017)

One from the to watch pile…
Annabelle Creation (2017)

The cover to the Australian Bluray release of Annabelle Creation (2017)


Film: If there is one thing I can say about post-millennium ghost stories it’s that I have so much ennui towards them that I actually end up being occasionally surprised by aspects of them that may show off a small bit of quality. That is, the stories are awfully generic and don’t bring anything new to the ghost sub-genre, but occasionally I’ll find an amazing actor, like Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring films, or just a filmic quality from the production that will make them stand above being absolute drivel.

Not by much, but a single redeeming feature is a redeeming feature, and I can’t deny that.

Of all these ghost stories though, for me the worst has been the ‘Annabelle’ film. It was seemingly driven on by the genpop’s love of creepy dolls, but I didn’t find it to be particularly entertaining, and was surprised that a subplot from a different series should get its own. Even worse, this film is an ‘origin’ film, and I find that when you demystify a character you weaken it, somehow. I like Rob Zombie’s Halloween but I find Myers to be more a tragic figure than a force of nature in his films.

Esther’s (Miranda Otto) scars aren’t all mental.


This film, Annabelle Creation, tells the tale of dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto) whose lives horribly changed after the tragic loss of their daughter, Bee (Samara Lee).

Several years later, the couple take in a nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and a small group of orphaned girls, including the crippled by polio, Jan (Talitha Eliana Bateman) as an act of charity, but very quickly the girls discover that there is something in the house… something evil…

… and boring. It’s redeeming feature is it finally does pick up almost at the end, but that’s only if you manage to overcome the terrible pacing. To its credit it did end on a clever note, leading to the previous film.

Carol (Grace Fulton) in a scene lifted from one of Sandberg’s short films.


It’s one thing to make a film that is made for the mass populous that has nothing original, but to make it boring as well is a crime that I just can’t get by. There is no doubt David F. Sandberg, who previously gave us the wonderful Lights Out, gets amazing performances from such a young cast and the film looks hot and dry, but the script, by It’s Gary Dauberman, stinks of generic.

You could play ‘ghost movie lotto’ with this film: creepy doll, tick! Floaty black mist, tick! Weird old guy, tick! I could go on… but that’s not the worst of it. For the most part it feels like there is no threat and nothing seems to happen for the longest time. The worst crime a horror film can commit is being boring, so for that, this film should get life imprisonment.

Score: *

The menu for the Australian Bd release of Annabelle Creation (2017)


Format: This Australian Bluray release of the film runs for approximately 109 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 image with a matching Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: There a a few extras on this disc.

The Conjuring Universe is a short look at the universe that the Conjuring and Annabelle films exist within.

There are two horror shorts, Attic Panic and Coffer, both by Sandberg and his partner Lotta Losten, both of which are far more effective than (and whose scenes are borrowed for) this film.

There’s a bunch of deleted scenes that can be watched with a commentary by the director which discuss how the film would have been well over 2 hours long without some trimming, and is an interesting discussion about the importance of editing.

Directing Annabelle Creation is an excellent discussion with Sandberg about directing films. He discusses how he became a filmmaker and how he used DVD extras as ‘training’ videos for his own skill. It’s extraordinarily fascinating and a real insight into the act of direction and possibly an inspiration to those of us who do the same thing.

There is an interesting director’s commentary too, and it’s totally worth it. Sandberg is a guy who loves his craft of movie making and it really shows.

Score: ****

WISIA: Nup, nope, never. Though I might put it on for the two shorts on the extras.

The ‘eyes’ have it… eh, eh?

The Conjuring (2013) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Conjuring (2013)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: I have said on several occasions that I am not a fan of ghost/ demonic possession films. It’s not because I am afraid of them, but rather I don’t believe in either so the stories hold no fear for me, and are occasionally interesting distractions rather than actual entertainment.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good movie when it’s made, or am excited by a great performance, it’s just I don’t find the stories engaging enough as I find ‘true’ stories about possession to be a farce.

Anyway, this is the first film, directed by Australian director James Wan, about the real-life, honest-to-goodness psychic ghost-hunters, Lesley (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren and their exploration of the Perron family haunting, where Roger (Ron Livingston), his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their 5 daughters move into a new house where strange things start happening.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens.


First their dog dies, then noises and a whole pile of spooky hocus pocus occurs, driving Carolyn to ask the Warrens for their help to try and get rid of whatever is in their house… and what is the horrible secret of the mysterious bruises appearing of Carolyn’s body…?

Considering this film is supposed to be based of a true story, it is full to the brim of stock standard tropes of generic, uninteresting ghost films. A whole bunch of jump-scares and totally post-millennium ghost story make-ups that are uninteresting and universal looking make this film little more than run-of-the-mill.

Also, Wan has included a pair of cannon-fodder buffoons, like the ridiculous Specs and Tucker from the equally daft Insidious films, who are really just mimicking those characters, and stand in as the ‘technical’ and ‘protection’ archetypes seen in stuff even back to Poltergeist. I’m not sure why they need a gun-toting type in their war on supernatural terror, but there he is, useless as boobs on a bull. Even with the Annabelle icon he robs not just from the history of possession/ ghost cinema but also from his own film Dead Silence from a couple of years earlier.

Lili Taylor as the haunted Carolyn.


The real win in this film is the cast. Wilson and Farmiga have a chemistry rarely seen in films anymore: they actually feel like a couple who have been together for years. Lili Taylor is amazing and ageless as she always is… seriously, she has looked exactly the same for 20 years! Surprisingly too, all 6 of the children in this film are amazing and not one of them is in the slightest bit annoying… or ‘the Anakin Factor’ as I like to call it.

The construction of the story is really clever too. Two set-ups occur in the first 45 minutes of this film, one of the family’s haunting and the other, the Warren’s history and skill set, so essentially for that period you are watching two separate stories that intersect when one requires assistance from the other.

It’s a nicely made film with some great performances but essentially it is a dull as dishwater, generic post millennial ghost story that surely must only appeal to people who don’t normally like proper horror films.

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 112 minutes. This film is presented in a perfect 2.4:1 image with an extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, DTS-HD 5.1 audio. The soundtrack and audio style of the film is nothing short of spectacular.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for We’re The Millard, if that counts an an extra. I must admit I did buy that film based on this trailer.

The reviewed copy of this disc comes with a Bluray, DVD and ‘Ultraviolet’ version, which expired in 2015, so that possibly doesn’t count.

Onto the main extras:

The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror looks at the actual family who believed they were being haunted that this film was based on. It’s interesting to hear the ‘actual’ tales from the people who were involved in the ‘real’ haunting and exorcism.

A Life in Demonology is a history of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the actual paranormal investigators. It’s a nice tribute to the two with some interesting stories.

Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You looks at the making of the film and how even in a film that’s essentially a biopic, though a snapshot of an entire life, you still need to throw in those ghost story tropes to make it an effective horror film as well.

Score: ****

WISIA: I watched it twice: the first time originally and now to review it for you all. I doubt if I’ll watch it again.

Annabelle: has very little to do with this story but is now a money maker in her own right.