The Conjuring universe expands on one of its creepier villains, the habit-sporting Valak, in the ever-widening franchise—another Annabelle sequel and a Crooked Man spinoff are in the works to accompany a third main film—with an inconsistent movie that relies far too heavily on genre clichés.
In 1952, a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, sister to Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in both Conjurings), and Father Burke (Demián Bichir), haunted by a tragic exorcism in his past, are sent by the church to investigate a remote convent in Romania. The duo discovers that the convent hides a dark secret: It doubles as a prison for some unspeakable evil that has been wiping out the order assigned to guard it.
Director Corin Hardy successfully transplants the foreboding Irish atmosphere of his debut, The Hallow, to Romania. The convent is as dark and creepy as one expects, and its geography is just as confusing. The unreliability of Sister Irene and Father Burke as witnesses grows wearyingly unpleasant rather than scary. However, once Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) comes back to the convent, it seems like someone else must be directing the movie. The sudden appearance of Bruce Campbell’s Ash sporting a collar would not have seemed out of place during the overly quippy showdown with the demon hiding as a nun.
That last act may be more fun, but feels unrelated to what came before. The Nun squanders the frightening potential of its primary antagonist, who is far more absent than she is petrifying.