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‘The Nun:’ Suspenseful, entertaining, all-around good

This is the prequel to the Conjuring movies. Followers of “The Conjuring” will appreciate the short snippets used in “The Nun” establishing it as how “The Conjuring” began. You don't have to worry about the usual tricks of flashbacks to interrupt the flow of “The Nun.” I really liked the way it was done with a brief snippet at the beginning and another little one toward the end. The Nun (played by Boiangiu Alma) makes considerably more, but brief, appearances here. Although the Nun's origins are left to your imagination, the suspense of her appearances work well.

The setting and environment are what carries the sense of foreboding throughout the film. Set in far away Romania in a desolate abbey/castle where a conclave of nuns stand watch in constant prayer to keep evil at bay. Brief descriptions of the place from locals support the theme as this is a place no one goes and everyone stays away from. The building itself is surrounded by wooden crosses situated much like a picket fence. Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) muses whether the crosses are there to keep something out or to keep something in.

The movie starts with a bang. Deep within the walls of the abby two nuns are approaching a door clearly labeled in a foreign language “God ends here.” Sure beats a “No Trespassing” sign. One nun enters, screaming starts, music builds and the other nun runs upstairs to a bedroom, puts a noose around her neck and jumps out the window.

The Vatican learns of the activities, sends their veteran sleuth Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and partners him up with a nun-to-be Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who was known to the church because of her early visions. They meet up with Frenchie who takes them to the abbey and provides some comic relief throughout. Burke comes across as the straight-laced, no-nonsense investigator even if he lacks a bit of common sense using a lighter in an oxygen-restricted coffin he later finds himself in. You'll laugh at his stupidity when he follows a bell being dragged across the floor instead of paying attention to the demon currently harassing him. It's Sister Irene's visions that lead the viewer down the path of suspense and fear. Eventually you come to realize what you're seeing may just be her vision instead of reality. It's a tool that works and moves the plot, along with Sister Irene's innocent appearance. She stands and observes where most everyone else would be high-tailing it out of there.

There's plenty of jump-scares. You'll even anticipate some. Frenchie comes around in the nick of time. The final battle isn't as choreographed as it could have been nor did it come to a final conclusion. So the abbey was there to guard the gateway preventing evil upon the earth. And in order for evil to escape it had to have a human vessel. At the end you'll see if that happens. The Nun was entertaining and the 96 minutes does go by pretty fast. It is rated R, mostly for graphic situations. Either put your soda in the cupholder or get yourself plenty of napkins. I'll give The Nun 4 out of 5 Miners.