(director: Corin Hardin; screenwriters: Gary Dauberman/based on a story by James Wan & Dauberman; cinematographer: Maxime Alexandre; editors: Michel Aller, Ken Blackwell; music: Abel Korzeniowski; cast: Demian Bichir (Father Burke), Taissa Farmiga (Sister Irene), Jonas Bloquet (Frenchie), Bonnie Aarons (The Nun), Charlotte Hope (Sister Victoria), Michael Smiley (Bishop Pasquale), Ingrid Bisu (Sisrer Oana), Sandra Teles (Sister Ruth), August Maturo (Daniel), Jack Falk (Daniel), Lynnette Gaza (Mother Superior); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Peter Safran, James Wan; Warner Brothers Pictures; 2018)

The franchise worsens with each new episode, hitting an all-time low here.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A supernatural prequel (the fifth chapter in the money making Conjuring series). It’s helmed by Corin Hardin (“The Crow”/”The Hallow”) and written by Gary Dauberman, from a story by him and James Wan. It makes the preposterous claim the tale is based on a true incident. 1n 1952 a young nun commits suicide at the secretive cloistered abbey in Biertan, Romania. The experienced exorcist Father Anthony Burke (Demian Bichir) is summoned to Rome and ordered by the Catholic Church hierarchy to investigate the sacred sanctuary, accompanied by a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, the younger sister of Vera), who has occult visions. The Vatican wants him to say if the ground is still holy. The Abbey of St. Carta is a bombed-out medieval castle that is avoided by the superstitious villagers. The two church people are joined in the visit by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), he’s the local French-Canadian delivery supply man who found the corpse. As the tale goes, two nuns faced a demonic spirit, the demon Valak, in the forbidden part of the church, where a sign reads “God Ends Here.” The result is that one nun is consumed by darkness and the other hangs herself while clutching a mysterious key (one that locks out the evil spirits). It gets silly when the demonic force (Valak) takes the form of a nun (Bonnie Aarons) and endangers the lives of those at the abbey. The pointless film makes little sense and becomes increasingly tiresome. It relies on jump scares and dangers lurking in the shadows for its cheap fright moments, which are not even scary. The franchise worsens with each new episode, hitting an all-time low here. The only thing that works is the Romanian setting, which gives the horror tale the right spooky atmospheric look.