- Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
- How much more foreboding does a castle need to look before you just avoid it altogether?
Why is the idea of a cinematic shared universe so difficult for studios to reproduce? Sure, Marvel has nailed it, proving to other studios how and why it can be done, but the DC Comics Universe featuring "Justice League" and "Suicide Squad" and Universal's "Dark Universe" with Tom Cruise's "The Mummy" have failed miserably. Aside from some shoddy filmmaking, the primary reason for this seems to be the studios having much bigger eyes than stomachs.
DC wanted a giant billion-dollar franchise before making a single solid movie. They didn't put in the work to create memorable characters that we'd want to follow over multiple movies. Even though the DCEU has made a ton of money, it's rare to find someone who actually likes "Batman v. Superman" or "Man of Steel."
DC and Universal make it look really hard to be creative AND commercially successful, so it's somewhat amazing that "The Conjuring" Universe seems to be the only massively scaled franchise to learn the lessons from Marvel. With the two "Conjuring" films," the two "Annabelle" flicks and now the spinoff following "The Nun," Warner Bros. has created a shared universe populated with memorable characters, gorgeous direction and some deeply disturbing monsters.
"The Nun" acts as "The Conjuring" Universe's throwback to Hammer Horror films of the 1970s, like "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Blood from the Mummy's Tomb." There's an old-school vibe to the slow-burn storytelling of "The Nun," content to just let us spend time with a Catholic priest and a young novitiate as they explore the mystery of a dead nun in a Romanian castle.
The film relies too heavily on jump scares created by loud noises, but there's some incredibly disturbing imagery that keeps the film tonally disturbing even if it's not necessarily a thrill ride.
"The Nun" made $131 million in three days, so I'm sure we'll get more "Nun" movies, more "Conjuring" movies and then eventually some movies about an evil librarian, an angry zookeeper and a somewhat irate Zumba instructor.
Doesn't matter to me, I'll watch them all. As our heroes hunted the face of pure evil through foggy catacombs beneath a thousand-year-old castle armed with only torches, a shotgun and the blood of Christ, I had a moment where I realized horror movies were the best—even the bad ones, because where else can you see such ridiculousness? Gotta love it.