The Nun

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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In this time of shocking revelations about the Roman Catholic Church, it’s not surprising to find movies that demonize the largest Christian church, an institution with approximately 1.3 billion baptized members. One of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it traces its lineage all way back to St. Peter and the Apostles.

Such films as “Angels & Demons,” “Priest,” “Deliver Us From Evil,” and “Spotlight” come to mind. But some films like “The Omen,” “Demon Nun,” or “The Conjuring” series go even farther.

“There’s definite thematic overlap between horror and religion,” says Timothy Milinovich, an associate professor of theology at Dominican University. “Both attempt to address what is outside of us that is a threat, but also that what is within us: rage and anger and jealousy and all these other things that are corruptors – even the concept of guilt and the need for redemption.”

This week we have two such films opening in theaters: “The Nun” and “The Apparition.” You’ll find “The Nun” showing at Tropic Cinema.

Being the fifth installment in “The Conjuring” movie series, “The Nun” serves as the origin story for the demonic nun Valak (Bonnie Aarons), who was introduced in “The Conjuring 2” as a foil to test the faith of paranormal expert Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga).

This new film focuses on Father Burke (Demian Bechir) and novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they journey to a cloistered abbey in Romania to investigate why a young nun committed suicide.

Yes, bad things happen.

Note: Taissa Farmiga is the sibling of Vera Farmiga, the actress you saw in “The Conjuring 2.”

Director Corin Hardy says his scare tactics are created by combining classic horror with unholiness. “When something good and pure like a religious sanctuary is subverted and becomes uneasy and untrustworthy, it becomes terrifying,” he explains.

Screenwriter Gary Dauberman adds, “In these dark times, you have to rely on the one thing that brought you to religion in the first place, which is really faith. That’s what “The Nun” speaks to. Evil will throw things at you and test you, just like we’ve seen with so many people tested in the Bible, but at the end of the day, it’s the faith that sort of pulls us through the darkness.”

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