“The Nun” stars Taissa Farmiga, younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who is in “The Conjuring.”

It’s been a good time to be a horror movie fan for a while now.

With megahits like “It” hitting theaters. With smaller, gnarlier gems like “Hereditary” and “It Follows” finding audiences.

But if I’m following my dark, scared, stupid heart here, the story of horror films this decade thus far belongs to “The Conjuring” series.

In 2013, James Wan’s period-piece haunted house movie made $319 million worldwide on a $20 million budget. And not only that — “The Conjuring” was fantastic, a classically made horror movie that packed in bone-deep dread, expertly crafted scares and even a bit of that ol’ Spielbergian magic. It’s one of the best horror movies of the decade.

“The Conjuring 2” was nearly as good. It earned $320 million. And the evil doll spinoff, “Annabelle,” and its sequel brought in another half a billion dollars combined.

And now comes yet another offshoot, the prequel “The Nun,” which ties into the events and villains of the “Conjuring” movies. There is no horror franchise that has been so successful at expanding its cinematic universe. “Conjuring” is to horror what Marvel is to superhero movies.

“The Nun” is expected to rake in between $40 million and $45 million for its opening weekend, a record for the franchise.

So how is it?


“The Nun” is a prequel to 2013's "The Conjuring."

Well, it’s ... it’s pretty good. Like the “Annabelle” movies, “The Nun” is riding on the fumes of “The Conjuring” films proper. But that still puts it ahead of dreck like “Slender Man.”

It has a good mood, some decent scares and it gets in and out in about 90 minutes. And as an added bonus (or perhaps detriment), it features the most unnerving nun in cinema history. (I attended Catholic school, and the film elicited traumatic flashbacks to darkly lit scenes of various habited instructors looming over me angrily. I deserved it, but still ...)

In any case, “The Nun” takes place in an extremely bleak Romanian abbey in the 1950s, where a nun has just killed herself by hanging.

The Vatican dispatches a disgraced priest (Demián Bichir) and a nun-in-training (Taissa Farmiga, younger sister of “Conjuring” star Vera Farmiga) to investigate the death. They’re told to exorcise their best judgment.

Upon arrival, they find a guide (and some comic relief) in a caddish French-Canadian (Jonas Bloquet).

The motley trio head into the obviously cursed-by-the-devil abbey, and we’re off! To a barrage of blood and guts and things going nun in the night.

The Nun (Bonnie Aarons), who is actually just a demon, played a prominent role in “Conjuring 2,” and the new film is bookended with scenes that reveal a few surprising details in the “Conjuring” mythos.

But this is, for the most part, a self-contained creepshow, with our three protags running and screaming from the Nun and her minions (minnuns?). Our heroes get buried alive, bitten by devil snakes and chased through the woods by freshly frozen corpses. The scares are well-calibrated, even if their effect is undercut by the film’s wretchedly clumsy music cues.

The secret Satan plot revolves around the stuff you’d expect: gateway to hell, blood of Jesus Christ, demon looking for a vessel. The three leads, particularly Bichir, are all quite good — their characters wrestling with their faith while literally walking straight into Hell.

A hidden tunnel in the abbey leads to a door labeled (in Latin): “God Ends Here.” They open the door, resulting in perhaps the most obvious case of “DON’T GO IN THERE!” I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.