The Nun Blu-ray Review
Back to the beginning of the curse.
The Nun Film Review
Franchise helmer James Wan takes his Conjuring universe in yet another direction - back to the beginning for The Nun.Director James Wan may now be better remembered for his efforts to craft a colourful underwater action epic in last year's Aquaman, but his beginnings were in horror, finding a tremendous debut in the first Saw film, and staying on as executive producer as that franchise expanded, before directing the first Insidious movie and then the first Conjuring entry.
Sure, he may have taken a break out to do The Fast and Furious 7, but he's always kept his foot firmly planted in his horror roots, directing the first sequels to both his Conjuring and Insidious franchises, before they expanded out in every direction, and remaining on as not only producer, but writer for the Conjuring universe, as it traversed the origins of the demonic Annabelle doll and now as it looks back at the possessed Nun whose image we first saw way back in the first Conjuring film.
It doesn't quite have the taut scares of the earlier entries in the series.
The story introduces a terrible evil in the bowels of a monastery; so terrible that it costs the life of two nuns. When the body of one of them is found, the Church sends Damien Bichir's (The Hateful Eight) priest - and exorcism expert - to investigate, partnering him with American Horror Story alumni Taissa Farmiga's trainee nun as they investigate the ruins where the body was found, discovering far more than they bargained for.
Brit film director Corin Hardy cuts his sophomore teeth here on an established franchise, turning in a feature that - whilst feeling a little jagged, perhaps in part due to its inexperienced dual editors - is otherwise in-line with the broader Conjuring Universe, enjoying the mood and atmosphere of a bomb-ravaged post-war 50s monastery setting, with a game cast suitably perplexed and shocked in equal measure by the events that befall them.
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite have the taut scares of the earlier entries in the series, peppering its expansion of a wafer-thin premise with attempts at jump scares that - occasionally - come across as unintentionally comic in their goofiness, as well as more than a little The Exorcist thrown in for good measure. Eventually the titular character - arguably one of the most haunting images from the first film - gets some suitably scary limelight, but The Nun is still hardly likely to be remembered for being the strongest entry in the saga, even if fans will likely still get a kick out of the further background into a favourite franchise.
The Nun Blu-ray PictureThe Nun received a 4K Blu-ray release in the US, courtesy of Warner, who duly announced plans for the same trifecta of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD releases on this side of the pond, only to unceremoniously dump the intended 4K release and instead release it on just Blu-ray and DVD. Since it was only a 2K upscale, some might argue that we're not missing much, but it's still a shame that the intended release was canned, and it's certainly not the first time that this has happened of late.
On the plus side, Warner's UK Blu-ray release fares extremely well indeed, providing an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation of the film, framed in its original aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
A great looking video presentation.
Shot digitally, detail remains impressive throughout, lapping up wisps of hair, weathered faces and the richly nuanced architecture, with little softness present across the runtime, and little if any signs of any digital defects, despite a source which has so much potential for rampant crush and banding. Indeed, whilst the daytime sequences boast impressive shots at lush countryside, the film is dominated by darkness - with moonlit, mist-swept graveyards, candlelit passages (where the candles go out) and deep dark tombs throughout. Despite every opportunity for black levels to falter, the image remains stable, and there's a healthy amount of pop even without the presence of the 4K release's big gun - HDR - allowing greens and unholy reds to strike out in the depths of the shadows and mist. It's a great looking video presentation.
The Nun Sound QualityThankfully the dropping of the 4K release made no difference to the quality of soundtrack afforded to this title, with the very same Dolby Atmos track that was on that version also present here, founded upon an already impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core and, curiously, also given a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 alternative which - it should be noted - the disc defaults to.
The effects help define this track as demo worthy.
It's in the soundscape design that the film truly comes alive, with the 3D High Definition immersive audio track delivering the goods across the spectrum, bringing the atmospheric landscape to a hauntingly creepy fore with its acute observations. Whether it's the claustrophobic intensity of a premature burial or the tiny chime of the bells that ring out across the graveyard; the sudden thunder boom scares of The Nun, or the bone-cracking zombie-snarl of a possessed entity - the track picks up everything it has to play with and keenly disseminates it with precision across the array, bringing up some nice LFE weighting underfoot to round out the impact.
Dialogue remains a strong presence, clear and coherent throughout, whilst the score manages to juggle period sensibilities with contemporary scares, but it's the effects themselves that help define this track as demo worthy.
The Nun Blu-ray ExtrasA smattering of Featurettes, a franchise Chronology and some Deleted Scenes.
The Nun Blu-ray VerdictEven if it's a weak addition to the unlikely franchise, fans should consider it a great release.
Although it is a shame that Warner cancelled their intended UK 4K release of The Nun (if for nothing more than the fact that it doesn't show much faith in the format), the results on Blu-ray are pretty hard to fault, affording viewers excellent video and tremendous audio - the same Atmos track that the 4K disc provided, and an image which at the very least competes with the 2K upscale that the 4K disc offered - and the same minimalist extras. Even if it's a weak addition to the unlikely franchise, fans should consider it a great release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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