The Nun (2018)

When staying in a haunted abbey it is advisable to frequently check and see what’s behind you.

(2018) Horror (New Line) Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, Sandra Teles, August Maturo, Jack Falk, Lynnette Gaza, Ani Sava, Michael Smiley, Gabrielle Downey, David Horovitch, Tudor Munteanu, Lili Bordán, Scarlett Hicks, Izzie Coffey, Jared Morgan, Laur Dragan, Eugeniu Cozma, Manuela Clucur, Beatrice Peter, Ana Udrolu. Directed by Corin Hardy

This is the fifth film in the Conjuring universe to date. In it we explore the origins of the demonic nun first seen in The Conjuring 2. Is her story worth exploring further?

At a remote Romanian abbey a young nun is found hanging from the front facade by local villager and supplier Frenchie (Bloquet). Word gets back to the Vatican where Father Burke (Bichir) is assigned to investigate with novitiate Sister Irene (Farmiga) sent to accompany him. Father Burke has a bit of a past; during an exorcism that he performed a child (Maturo/Falk) died and he has been haunted by the memory ever since.

When they get to the village near the Abbey where Frenchie lives, they discover that the villagers have a healthy fear of the Abbey which is rumored to contain a terrible evil. Frenchie takes the to the abbey where the Mother Superior (Gaza) informs them that the nuns are in the midst of their vow of silence for the night and they can’t be interviewed until the following day. The two clerics will have to stay the night.

Of course during the night both of them are beset by nightmarish visions and Frenchie has issues of his own getting back home. The next day Sister Irene talks to some cooperative nuns but discovers that they have been tasked to hold back the evil entity dwelling below the abbey with the power of constant prayer and Father Burke has a close encounter with Daniel and being buried alive. There is most definitely an evil presence at the Abbey – and it will be up to Father Burke, Sister Irene and Frenchie to vanquish it before it escapes to cause all sorts of havoc in the rest of the world.

Hardy uses his Romanian locations to their full potential. Rarely have I seen a horror movie that exudes such palpable menace. You’re on edge from the moment that we arrive in Romania which is what you want from a horror movie. Unfortunately, you want a bit more as well and the promise of the genuinely creepy castle where this was filmed isn’t taken advantage of.

Hardy relies far too much on jump scares which, to be fair, is a trademark of the franchise overall but the effectiveness of those scares is diluted the more that they are used. While the make-up for the demonic nun is genuinely impressive, for the most part she just leaps out of the shadows with an accompanying WHOOM! on the soundtrack. In that sense what could have been a great character is reduced to a Halloween novelty device that you find in neighborhood homes that like to decorate for the holiday.

Thankfully, Farmiga, Bloquet and particularly Bichir didn’t get the memo that the movie wasn’t up to par with the other films. They all turn in solid performances with Bichir once again proving that he is perhaps the most underutilized actor in Hollywood. It makes me wonder if he wasn’t Hispanic he would be getting more high-profile roles. As it is he makes the most out of the roles he does get and he is nearly as memorable as the background here.

This ends up being a bit of a disappointment. Demonic nuns are always an extremely scary creature and there has yet to be a movie that I’ve seen that really makes full use of them, although I’m sure there are some out there that must. The franchise has been to this point pretty impressive in terms of the quality of the individual films but it has been slipping as of late. There are at least three new movies in the Conjuring universe in the pipeline and hopefully they will turn the quality factor around but if they continue to be as mediocre as this perhaps it just might be time to give the franchise a rest.

REASONS TO GO: The Romanian locations are truly creepy. Bichir is outstanding while Bloquet and Farmiga both give strong performances.
REASONS TO STAY: There are way too many jump scares. The horror intensity is lacking from the other films in the franchise.
FAMILY VALUES: There is plenty of terror and disturbing images, violence and some gore.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Taissa Farmiga who plays Sister Irene is the younger sister of Vera, who plays Lorraine Warren in the original The Conjuring. It is not known whether the two characters are related.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/31/18: Rotten Tomatoes: 26% positive reviews. Metacritic: 46/100
Weed the People


New Releases for the Week of September 7, 2018


(New Line) Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, Sandra Teles, August Maturo, Jack Falk, Lynnette Gaza. Directed by Corin Hardy

A young novitiate and a priest with a disturbing past are sent to investigate the mysterious death of a nun in a remote abbey in Romania. There they discover a malevolent force that threatens not only their lives but their souls. Realizing that there is more at stake than just themselves, they rely on their crumbling faith to do battle with the damned in this latest installment in the Conjuring series.

See the trailer and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, DBOX, Dolby, IMAX, RPX, XD
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for terror, violence and disturbing/bloody images)

God Bless the Broken Road

(Freestyle) Lindsay Pulsipher, Jordin Sparks, LaDamian Tomlinson, Robin Givens. While grieving for her husband who was lost in Afghanistan, a young mother meets a race car driver who restores both her hope and her faith. This is loosely based on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song of the same name.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Faith-Based Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, AMC Lake Square, Barnstorm Theater,  Cinemark Artegon Marketplace, Regal Oviedo Mall, Regal Pavilion Port Orange, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: PG (for thematic elements and some combat action)

Madeline’s Madeline

(Oscilloscope) Helena Howard, Miranda July, Molly Parker, Sunita Mani. A theater director gets a whole lot more than they bargained for when the lead actress in their latest project takes her role a bit too seriously. Reality and fantasy begin to blur as a fierce tug of war takes place between the director, her young star and the actress’ mother.

See the trailer and a video featurette here
For more on the movie this is the website
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Mystery
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: NR


(STX) Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Method Man. When a woman’s family is killed by members of a drug cartel, she finds no justice in a corrupt system in which judges, cops and politicians are all bought and paid for by the cartel. Realizing that she’s a target, she goes underground for five years. When she returns she goes on a revenge spree that would make Stallone proud.

See the trailer, interviews, clips and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout)

The Wife

(Sony Classics) Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern. The wife of an acclaimed author accompanies him to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. There, her years of being taken for granted, her own writing skills appropriated and her life a shadow of what she imagined it to be come to the surface.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village, Rialto Spanish Springs Square

Rating: R (for language and some sexual content)


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No Date, No Signature
Silly Fellows
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The Favorite
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The Nun
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Pick of the Litter – September 2018


The Nun

(New Line) Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Bonnie Aarons, Jonny Coyne. The second spin-off film from the Conjuring film universe focuses on a demonic nun who has appeared in the visions of Lorraine Warren – played by Vera Farmiga, the older sister of Taissa. In this period piece, a young novitiate about to take her final vows and a priest with a troubled past are sent to a Romanian convent to investigate the suicide of a nun there. They find a terrifying apparition who heralds a desperate battle between the living and the damned with the fate of their souls on the line. Could be another winner for the series.  September 7



(Oscilloscope) Hal Ashby, Jon Voight, Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges. Hal Ashby directed some of the most seminal films of the 70s including Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Being There, Coming Home, Shampoo and Bound for Glory. Despite a resume of that caliber he remains largely unsung today, his later career being marked by drug use and a reputation for being difficult to work with. Still, many contemporary directors are influenced by his passion and his eye for a great story. September 7

Life in the Doghouse

(FilmRise) Ron Davis. Danny and Ron’s Dog Rescue is a unique operation. They are contacted regularly by animal shelters to take dogs that are on the euthanasia list and bring the animals into their home. Since beginning their business, they’ve rescued over 10,000 dogs, many of them who are basically unadoptable. Their pledge is that these animals will never see the inside of a shelter again, and if nobody adopts them, they’ll live their lives out with Danny and Ron. September 12

The Children’s Act

(A24) Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Finn Whitehead, Ben Chaplin. A judge whose marriage is crumbling is assigned a particularly difficult case in which a young teen with leukemia refuses blood transfusions that he needs to survive because of his faith. The judge must determine whether the teen is being unduly influenced by his parents who are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses or that the boy has arrived at his stand on his own. The two will find inspiration in one another as time ticks down on the seriously ill young man. September 14


(Roadside Attractions/Saban) Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw. The story of Lizzie Borden is a familiar one; in 1892, her mother and father were brutally murdered with an axe. Lizzie was accused of the heinous crime but was never convicted. This is a reimagining of the notorious case which remains unsolved more than 125 years later. September 14

Love, Gilda

(Magnolia/CNN) Gilda Radner, Gene Wilder, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader. She was one of the most beloved comedians of her time. She was also the first person selected for the original Saturday Night Live cast. In this intimate documentary, we hear her thoughts and her life in her own words through tape recordings made during her illness and in journal entries throughout her life. September 21

 Tea With the Dames

(Sundance Selects) Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins. Four of the greatest actresses of the 21st century (and the 20th) get together for a spot of tea and a bit of idle gossip. The results are hilarious, heartwarming and vivacious. September 21

The Old Man and the Gun

(Fox Searchlight) Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover. This is the story of Forrest Tucker, an enigmatic bank robber who at 70 years old  escapes from San Quentin and embarks on a series of daring heists that frustrate law enforcement authorities and captivate the public. Redford has stated that this will be his final acting role. September 28

Bad Reputation

(Magnolia) Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, Iggy Pop, Pete Townshend. Joan Jett has gone from an upstart who dared to play rock and roll as a woman to an icon who has inspired generations of female rockers. This is her story from her time in the Runaways to her battles with the powers that be to her acceptance as one of the most influential figures in the annals of rock and roll. September 28

Monsters and Men

(Neon) Anthony Ramos, John David Washington, Rob Morgan, Chanté Adams. A young man with a future films an unjustified police shooting of an unarmed man in front of a Brooklyn bodega. He is faced with the choice of posting the video and potentially jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve, or keep it hidden and in doing so becoming complicit in the cover-up. September 28