HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE NUN (2018)

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THE NUN (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Nun is the latest film in The Conjuring film series now referred to as “The Conjuring Universe”. The film explores the origins of the demonic nun that plagued the Warrens in Conjuring 2 and is a spooky fun entry in a series that, up till now, has taken itself a bit too seriously at times. The story opens in 1952 where a veteran priest, Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is asked by the Vatican to travel to Romania to investigate the suicide of a nun at a remote Abbey. He is asked to bring along young Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who is about to take her vows to join the sisterhood. There they find that the locals think the place is cursed and maybe with good reason as the Abbey is housed in the castle of a duke who used to perform occult ceremonies. Something evil he conjured has been reawakened and now needs a human host to escape. It’s focused on Irene and so she, Burke and a French-Canadian migrant named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), must find a way to send this demon in nun’s clothing (Bonnie Aarons) back to the hell it came from before it releases it’s bad habits upon an unsuspecting world.

Flick is directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) from a script and story by James Wan and Gary Dauberman. Hardy brings loads of atmosphere and some incredibly spooky visuals to the proceedings. The man knows how a Gothic horror should look. He manages some spooky scenes and delivers loads of nods to other movies such as Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, Raimi’s Evil Dead and at times it even evoked the Blind Dead series and obviously, some of the nun themed horrors out of Europe in 70s, like Jess Franco’s The Demons. It’s never truly scary, even if it does play it’s story straight, but it’s fun in that it throws it’s familiar tropes at us fast and furious and mixes and uses them quite well. We get frightened villagers, ominous woods, exorcisms, fog strewn graveyards, re-animated corpses, folks buried alive and more crosses than you can shake at a demonic nun. We do find out who the demon in question is and why it’s here, but other than liking the style or mocking it’s prey, it’s never clear why it prefers to dress like a nun. But with all the spooky goings on, do we really need to know? What the heck…It works. By the rolling of the credits a good time has been had and the film does gives us that vital link to the Warrens that makes the Conjuring connection. After the holy smoke clears we haven’t seen anything new, but are amused by the way Corin Hardy took all the familiar tropes and ran with them…and run with them he does. He also had good support from Maxime Alexandre’s sumptuous cinematography and a really Gothic score by Abel Korzeniowski.

The cast work well, especially young Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene. She portrays well a young woman of the cloth whose faith and strength are tested against something not even The Bible has prepared her for. She’s a good actress much like her older sister Vera Farmiga from The Conjuring films. She makes for a good heroine. Demián Bichir is good as the priest with a past. He has a grizzled demeanor and a gravelly voice which essays a man who has seen a lot in his lifetime and experienced some harsh events. Of course the demon uses those events from his past against him and it makes things interesting. Jonas Bloquet is OK as the French Canadian Maurice or ‘Frenchie’ as he is known to the locals. He has some of the weakest lines and his character disappears for a long stretch, so his character development is the weakest. Rounding out is Bonnie Aarons as our demonic nun Valak, and she is effective under the make-up and CGI, but never appears long enough to really chill us like she should.

Not being the biggest fan of this Conjuring Universe, the general opinion is that they run hot and cold with the original The Conjuring still being the most effective of the lot, with Annabelle: Creation and now The Nun being the more enjoyable spin-offs. The Nun is full of things we’ve seen before, but mixes them well and serves them up at a rapid pace with some real nice atmospheric and visual support from director Corin Hardy. It’s played straight, but one can tell Hardy is having fun throwing all the crosses, headstones, spooks and specters at us and the film is more self aware and a bit less serious than it’s predecessors in this series…and that’s a good thing. Spooky fun.

For those who haven’t seen Corin Hardy’s first film The Hallow, I recommend you check it out! -MZNJ

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 demonic nuns.

 

 

 

 

 

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COOL STUFF: THE HALLOW on BLU-RAY

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THE HALLOW (2015) Blu-Ray

The Hallow is an atmospheric and spooky Irish horror (see full review here) that has arrived on blu-ray from the awesome folks at Scream Factory, as part of their partnership with IFC Midnight…a partnership that has been yielding some great discs!

As for the disc itself…

The picture is gorgeous, the colors vibrant and really presents the visual style of director Corin Hardy and the wonderful cinematography of Martijn Van Broekhuizen, perfectly. The disc is presented in the original 2.35.1 widescreen aspect ratio, preserving the filmmakers’ vision. The sound is in 5.1 DTS and there is an alternate 2.0 track for those without the home theater set-up.

Now on to the extensive extras which make this disc even more worth having!…

The extras start out with a wonderful 50 minute documentary Surviving The Fairytale: Making The Hallow, which is a chronicle of the making of the film from story development, casting and even the training of the creature performers. It uses interviews with the director, cast and crew, with on-set footage to detail the film’s journey starting with Corin Hardy’s story and his decision to use practical make-up effects and prosthetics to portray the fairy creatures and the actual making of those creature FX for the screen. We then travel with Hardy and crew to the Galway, Ireland locations as the film begins production. Here we get to see all facets of how this dark fantasy was created, from staging FX sequences, to Hardy directing the actors in their scenes. It’s extensive and fun. We then go to post production to see the film start to come together and then on to it’s initial test screenings and finally it’s premiere at Sundance. It is a very enjoyable and thorough look at the making of the film, made by the filmmakers themselves with as much heart as they put into their film. You really get a sense of the passion that went into this project by all involved. We also get three ‘making of’ features derived from the documentary and then finish up with director’s storyboards, some illustrations from the Celtic  Book Of Invasions, which is featured in and influenced the film, as well as, Corin Hardy’s sketchbook and creature concepts. There is also an audio track with Corin Hardy commentary, too. It’s over 75 minutes of extras and if you love the filmmaking process, simply enjoy this movie, or both, these are a host of extras you’ll want to have!

I really enjoyed this movie and agree with star Joseph Mawle that the more you watch it, the more you see. It’s a very charming and yet spooky dark fantasy from a filmmaker to watch and Scream Factory has delivered it on a beautiful disc with a host of must-have extras…which has become their forte.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HALLOW (2015)

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THE HALLOW (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Story finds British tree doctor Adam Hitchens (Game Of Thrones‘ Joseph Mawle) moving into a remote Irish house to examine the trees of the local forest which is being sold to a logging company. As he settles in with his wife, Claire (Bojana Novakovic) and their infant son, strange things start to happen. The locals claim he is trespassing on the land of “The Hallow”, fey creatures that live in those woods and who will not be happy about his intrusion. Whether it be superstitious locals or creatures of legend, something is stalking the Hitchens family for some malevolent purpose.

Spooky flick is atmospherically directed by Corin Hardy from a script by Hardy and Felipe Marino. The director has a nice visual eye and gives his horror a strong style, as well as, a sense of foreboding. We know early on the Hitchens family has disturbed something primeval and we only get glimpses of these fairie creatures here and there, just enough to let us know that something unearthly is out and about. Once the story reaches the point of outright confrontation with the forest dwellers, we get some really cool and well rendered prosthetic creatures and a tense cat and mouse chase with our beleaguered family. There is some interesting side effects of contact with these creatures and it adds to the spookiness of the film that one family member maybe changing into something out of a nightmare, while being pursued by these creatures of the night. It’s not an outright scary flick, but it is a fun monster movie with some really nice prosthetic effects and a touching nod to Stan Winston in the credits that adds a sentimental charm to their use. It’s obvious to pick out elements from various horrors that have inspired Hardy, but he pays homage to them well and these elements blend effectively in this dark fairy tale-like story.

While there are some local supporting characters, who are creepy in themselves, it’s basically all Mawle and Novakovic. Joseph Mawle does a solid job as the scientist who, obviously, thinks all this talk of dangerous fairy creatures is hokum…until they are staring him in the face. He rises to the occasion to battle these things and adds a touch of nobility when he falls under their influence. Bojana Novakovic portrays a gutsy and strong woman and mother, who fights tooth and nail against these creatures of legend and gives us a character to get behind and root for. They also have a nice chemistry together and they are very believable as a couple.

Overall, this is an entertaining monster flick with definite influences from other horror classics that blends them into an entertaining dark fantasy. There are some very spooky sequences, interestingly designed creatures and some intense action, with some delightfully in-camera rendered SPFX. The beautiful cinematography by Martijn Van Broekhuizen only enhances Corin Hardy’s visual style and James Gosling’s music adds to the already atmospheric flick. Maybe not an outright scary movie, but an entertaining horror and an indication that good things might be coming from Corin Hardy.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 very unwelcome tree doctors.
hallow rating

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