THE NUN – Review by Susan Granger

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After a brief appearance by “The Nun” in James Wan’s “The Conjuring 2” (2016), this is a franchise spinoff, a supernatural prequel, set decades before the evil spook began to haunt Connecticut’s ghost-hunter Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga).

After a nun commits suicide at a cloistered abbey in Biertan, Romania, in 1952, Father Anthony Burke (Demian Bichir) is summoned to Rome. He’s dispatched by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to investigate the sacred sanctuary, accompanied by a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Vera’s real-life sister Taissa Farmiga), who has occult visions.

“I have orders from the Vatican to determine if the grounds are still holy,” he explains.

Taking a horse-drawn buggy to the dark, dank Abbey of St. Carta, a bombed-out medieval castle that is shunned by the superstitious villagers, they’re joined by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), the French-Canadian fellow who discovered the gruesome corpse while delivering supplies to the abbey.

Apparently, two nuns confronted a demonic presence in a forbidden corner of the ancient building, an apparent portal to hell, where a sign proclaims: “God Ends Here.” One nun is consumed by darkness while the other hangs herself, still clutching a mysterious key.

The skeletal Abbess, whose face remains hidden behind a dark veil, isn’t much help, nor are the other screaming, terrified nuns, some of whom are set on fire, jangling their rosary beads in a prayer marathon.

Written by Gary Dauberman (“Annabelle” franchise) and directed by Corin Hardy (“The Hallow”), it’s decidedly mediocre, relying on ominous maneuvers like old-fashioned jump scares, crosses swiveling upside-down, radios that turn themselves on-and-off, writhing serpents and menacing shadows.

Not surprisingly, actress Bonnie Aarons is malevolently memorable as the titular, villainous Valak, who is determined to escape.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Nun” is a derivative 3, proving even bad horror movies conjure big box-office.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.