The Nun. Nope.

Such perfectly straight teeth for a demon… I guess Hell is going to the dentist after all.

The Nun sucks. I should just stop there. It doesn’t really deserve elaboration. but, screw it… why else does this blog exist then, if not to skewer garbage in an overly loquacious and ire-laden rant?

Okay, so The Nun falls into what I guess you’d call The Conjuring Cinematic Universe. This movie world consists of The Conjuring (great), The Conjuring 2 (ridiculous but sometimes affective), Annabelle (boring) and Annabelle: Creation (never bothered to waste my time watching it, and I’ve seen House 2, House 3 & House 4… own them all, in fact, on blur-ray so that’s really saying something about Annabelle: Creation).

The one thing The Nun has on all the other entries in the series though, is how goddamn stupid it is. It opens on a remote convent in a scary eastern European country (Romania, in his case) because to an American audience familiar with dreck like Hostel, eastern Europe is inherently terrifying. Perhaps because it is the cradle of all vampire lore. Or something. I don’t know, doesn’t matter. The movie opens with two nuns frantically searching for some sort of religious relic in a dark scary part of their convent. They open a huge ugly door they clearly should not have and one of them gets sucked inside by some sort of evil presence. The other runs aways and later hangs herself. Okay, so that doesn’t sound so stupid, right? Until later we get some exposition. Turns out, the evil presence in the convent is the demon, Valak from The Conjuring movies. According to The Nun (the movie, not a character in it), all Valak wants is a body to possess so it can escape the convent where it has been imprisoned. And apparently, this is why the one nun killed herself. BUT this is where it gets really really really really stupid… what about the other nun who got sucked into the dark room with the demon? Why did Valak not possess her? And if he did, why did the rest of the movie even happen? If he possessed her, he could leave. Which then brings up another point… later in the film, Valak appears as the evil nun we all know from The Conjuring movies. But why does he look like a nun? If he did possess the nun in the beginning, what in the hell is he hanging around for? And if he didn’t, 1) why didn’t he and 2) why is he then appearing to other characters as a creepy toothy nun (other than because creepy toothy nuns are scary)? It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

There are some other characters doing stupid, mostly irrelevant stuff too, like an older priest who contributes zero to the plot and could have been removed completely without impacting the “story” in the slightest. The other primary character is a young local man who initially discovers the nun who hung herself. The filmmaker’s end up shoehorning his storyline at the end of the film into an opening scene from the first Conjuring (even though they had to retcon the scene to tie it to The Nun). Which brings me to my second big problem with The Nun, besides the idiocy of its basic premise and opening scene. The main character is played by Taissa Farmiga, little sister to Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in the other Conjuring films. They are about 20 years apart in age, the same time separation between The Nun and The Conjuring, and look so much alike that it would be reasonable to assume that they were playing the same character at two different ages. Added to that, Taissa’s character, Sister Irene explains at one point that she’s had visions since she was a young child, exactly as Lorraine Warren describes her visions (since childhood) in The Conjuring. Of course, they do have different names and at no point in the later movies does Lorraine Warren talk about ever confronting Valak, or being a nun for that matter. Yet throughout The Nun, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the character was initially written as a young Lorraine Warren, but then changed later for whatever behind-the-scenes reasoning studio suits came up with. Ultimately though, I would probably chalk it up to a casting misstep. When you cast family members who look alike as characters who aren’t related, it becomes an odd distraction for the audience. This may sound like a minor grievance, but it’s the only thing about The Nun that stuck with me after having watched it. And as such, I would recommend it for completists only. Everyone else, stay far, far away. You want Nun of it.







SEARCHING… Wow. Who knew?

Don’t judge a film by its terribly Photoshopped poster.

Hey gang,

Seems like my last few reviews have all been fairly scathing. So I thought I’d post a rare positive review for once. Caught Searching on demand recently and was pretty blown away. I expected Unfriended but ended up with something more akin to Up meets The Vanishing.

John Cho has been quietly building an interesting film (& television) career in his life after Harold & Kumar. I’ve found him to be one of the more interesting aspects of the wildly inconsistent Star Trek reboot and its sequels.  He’s done great guest arcs on Sleepy Hollow, Difficult People & The Exorcist and with no less than 6 projects on the horizon for 2019, he really seems to be building steam in a big way right now.

So it should come as no surprise that he nearly single-handedly carries Searching and carries it well.  If you aren’t familiar with the conceit of the film, John Cho plays a concerned dad searching his daughter’s laptop and the internet for clues regarding her recent disappearance.  And in doing so, learns some hard truths regarding just how very little he really knows about his daughter.  Debra Messing receives a fair amount of screen time as the cop assigned to his missing persons case, but the whole of it is all told from his computer screen, hence the title.  If it sounds like an ad for Google or Microsoft, you’d be right.  But only at first. You get used to it and after awhile you begin to feel like you’re not just a passive audience, but are in the shoes of a terrified father trying desperately to track down and information he can that might lead to his daughter being found.

So that’s the aspect of Searching most like The Vanishing.  But I also mentioned Up. It may sound crazy if you haven’t seen Searching, but the first 20 minutes or so of the film are reminiscent of the opening of Up, where we learn through the single most efficient and effective 5 minute montage in all of filmdom, the entire history of the main character’s relationship with his wife, from joyful vows til death do them part. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Searching is equal parts clever and emotionally moving and a large part of its overall effectiveness is John Cho’s performance. I’m reluctant to say anymore.  You should go into it with as clean a slate as possible.  It’s a great little thriller who’s central, shall we say gimmick (which isn’t really fair) is not only motivated, but executed with real style and heart.  Were I Siskel &/or Ebert (or even Richard Roeper), here is where I’d say, “Two thumbs up.”