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Directed by Luis De La Madrid
Written by Jaume Balaguero, Manu Diez
Starring Anita Briem, Belen Blanco, Manu Fullola, Alistair Freeland
Produced by Julio Fernandez, Brian Yuzna
As if the Catholic church didn’t have enough image problems already, horror veteran Brian Yuzna comes back to give them one more bugaboo in “The Nun,” a high-calibre horror romp that will make sure you never look at a nun the same way ever again.
So what we have here plotwise is, undoubtedly, every Catholic schoolgirl’s worst nightmare—a psychopathic nun that comes back from the dead in water form to take out her former misbehaving students. Of course, it probably doesn’t help matters when you’re one of the misbehaving students. And it really doesn’t help matters when you were involved in the incident that made the nun dead in the first place. So having the nun come back and try to kill you is pretty much guaranteed to ruin your weekend, even if you’re only the daughter of one of those misbehaving students. What follows is a manic romp of blood and habit-clad mayhem as Sister Ursula, the evil Catholic water-demon nun from beyond the grave (say THAT three times fast! Go on—it’s fun.) tries to put paid to her old students.
Now, the first thing you might notice is that Brian Yuzna’s involved in this. This makes the movie an object with huge potential—it could be a spectacular success or a spectacular failure, but the chances of it being merely mundane on Yuzna’s watch are slim to none, and slim’s waiting on a bus out of town.
And indeed, the extended nightmare sequence that occupies the entire first five minutes of “The Nun” is sufficient to make me think that we’ve got a real explosive little package on our hands. Plus, there are a great plenty of creepy moments included throughout the movie, most of them revolving around sudden drips and trickles of water that lead to explosive scares of various degrees.
“The Nun” also does an excellent job with building suspense. The first appearance of the water demon / former nun at the fourteen minute eighteen second mark is preceded by almost four minutes of suspense building, a move which shows some truly impressive restraint. And even the standard Twilight-Zone “there’s something on the wing” homage comes off scarier than normal due to the suspense built in advance.
And the effects are similarly well done—the water demon has a very clear and sharp shape to it and carries some real dramatic weight. So too with the water movement—though it’s almost certainly CG, it’s a very clear and very subtle CG. Thus CG’s greatest failing, its clear and present unreality, is muted and used to best effect.
What’s especially interesting about “The Nun” is the fact that the story plays out in reverse, making more sense as it goes along, but also leaves itself almost half the movie thereafter to build on the past that it establishes for itself. By the time the first hour is up, you know exactly how Sister Ursula became the water demon, but there’s also about forty-five minutes left to go.
Though I do frown on the convenience aspect of things when we find out just what it is Sister Ursula is looking for. You’ll see what you mean—I can’t tell you without giving away a goodish chunk of the plot. But rest assured it’s just far too convenient.
The ending is, again, pretty convenient, but still solid. There’s lots of action here and even a couple good scares, which is more than you can ask for out of a lot of horror movies.
And there’s a really nice twist ending besides.
The special features include audio options, Spanish subtitles, English closed captions, behind the scenes footage, and trailers for “House of the Dead 2,” “Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis,” “Tamara,” “Satanic,” “Caved In: Prehistoric Terror,” and “See No Evil.”
All in all, “The Nun” is a solidly done horror package—certainly no great failure here—and every bit worthy of Brian Yuzna’s body of work. It’s more than worth your time to rent, especially if you like a lot of action with your horror.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
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