Sunday, October 29, 2006

THE NUN: a piscatorial romance


Tonight I heard a mysterious dripping sound here in my sub-basement lair. It’s fairly unusual to hear dripping when you already live in a giant fishtank, so I sent one of my air-breathing assistants to investigate. After a brief search she discovered that the hot-water nostril in the sink in the kitchenette was on, just a little. The drain stopper was closed, and the sink was full almost to the brim. I was immediately reminded of a scene from a film I have waited FAR TOO LONG to recommend to my operatives. THE TIME IS NOW.

The Nun, a quite decent piscatorial romance, was directed by Jaume Balaguero and released to the delight of video renters in 2005. I want all of you to RUSH OUT AND SEE THIS ONE for its inspiring religious message. If my eyes still made tears, I would have been moved to make some by the plight of the title character. The viewer cannot help but be touched by the indomitable will that allows the embattled nun to defeat the menace in the story: a gaggle of murdering teenaged girls.

PLOT SUMMARY: A teenager who refers to herself throughout the film as "Mary’s daughter" is devastated by the sudden and mysterious death of Mary, her mother. We see how Mary died, in a supernatural showdown with a very angry nun who formed herself out of water in the woman’s kitchen sink, but it is our little secret for the time being. The evidence disappears before anyone else arrives on the scene. The police have no idea what to think. Mom’s throat is slit but there is no sign pointing to how it happened. Was it an accident? Suicide? Maybe even murder?

At the funeral the girl meets a strange woman who claims to be an old friend of her mother’s. She explains that the "business trip" Mary was about to take to Europe was actually going to be a reunion of her friends from Catholic boarding school. The daughter notes uneasily that her mother would never talk about that period of her life to anyone... We know immediately that Mom had a DARK SECRET. Mary’s daughter decides to go to Europe and find out whatever she can. BAD IDEA, KID. (Unless your ambition is to become an aquatic lifeform. Heh.)

Before Mary’s daughter can even board the plane, her mother’s friend from boarding school is killed in a bizarre hotel elevator accident. Only we, the viewers, know that she was out running through the halls of the hotel in a bathrobe, screaming for help, because she’d spotted the nun’s ghost and was trying to escape her fate. But the nun showed HER, all right. Again, the ghost forms up out of water spilled in the bathroom, does the deed, and disappears without a trace, taking the water with her to stump the authorities.

The rest of the movie goes pretty much the same way. Mary’s daughter makes it to Spain and finds one old boarding-school friend after another, sometimes a little too late – in other words, just after the nun has dropped by. The kid ultimately finds her way to the boarding school, The Place Where It All Began, and gets her answers. She also has her own confrontation with the ghost. WILL MARY’S DAUGHTER SURVIVE?

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON THIS INSPIRING PICTURE:

>> Here we have another film about a recruiter using water VERY creatively, as a medium of bringing her converts home to the Deep Ones. This is a storyline calculated to warm any two-chambered heart, and give all of us some fresh ideas about how to accomplish our task. Ironically, it allows us to draw on the landscum imagination for fresh conversion techniques.

>> The central conflict of the story is between the nun’s singleminded faith and the girls’ temptation to engage – you should pardon the expression – in monkey business. The nun does everything she can while she’s on dry land to steer the girls in the right direction, but she is apparently defeated. NOT FOR LONG, THOUGH. First the girls make the mistake of drowning her. They proceed to compound their error by sinking the body in a reflecting pool on the school grounds. From this point, the nun is ONE OF US, and the girls don’t stand a chance of completing their terrestrial existence as planned.

>> The director would have us think that this is a standard ghost story, with the ghost taking revenge on her killers in hideously symbolic fashion. That’s how the landscum viewer is bound to see it, anyway. Which is fine.

>> Through a fish’s eye, it’s ALL DIFFERENT. A landscum woman, turned operative, has stubbornly retained the rich symbolism of her terrestrial career and her lifelong Catholic faith, knowing they will stand her in good stead when she returns to dry land to start bringing in new converts. It’s a delicious play on the old saying about how, if you give the Catholic Church your children when they are small, the Church will keep them forever. As we saw in my review of The Saint-A-Day Guide, there is NO CONTRADICTION between the Catholic church and the Way of Dagon. There were probably a dozen saints in that book dedicated to spreading the Good News of OUR watery god. (You can see that review elsewhere on this site.)

>> The director never really goes into the changes wrought on the long-suffering nun once she enters the water for good. Being 100% human (according to my research), he has no way of knowing about that anyway. It was probably an accident that the FX team made her aquatic self look so much like the residents of Imboca in another religious feature film, Dagon (reviewed on this site). In fact, she looks just like the face on the Dagon display box, with a wimple added. But now that I look on IMDb, I realize that both pictures are brainchildren of Brian Yuzna. End of mystery.

>> In his ignorance of WHAT HE’S REALLY TALKING ABOUT, the director turns out to be right about one thing: once she enters the water, the nun is able to draw on the strengths of her human existence as well as those of her new aquatic one. This makes her vastly more powerful, creative, and effective in her recruiting efforts. Check out the way she successfully recruits one protesting human after another in this story! Converting the ones who don't WANT to come with us is a tough sell, and she does a beautiful job. She does it by combining the flashing genius of a well-educated human with the deadly, hovering patience of a fish. I urge you to follow her example and be as wily, creative and determined as she is. YOUR NUMBERS ARE BOUND TO GO UP.

>> I feel the need to add at this point that there is NO TRUTH to the rumor that Spanish-speaking humans are more likely than others to transform into Piranhas when we convert them. YES, the Spanish nun in this story resembles a Piranha, with those teeth. YES, so do many of the good citizens of Imboca, Spain, in Dagon. YES, they speak mostly Spanish these days in the Amazon Basin, where the Piranhas frolic. The truth is that the FX team on The Nun imitated the makeups used in Dagon, because it was a pretty cool movie. Leaping to any other conclusion is PURE MONKEY PEOPLE THINKING. That way lies MADNESS, ladies.

>> Check out the groovy sub-aquatic slithering movements of the nun’s ghost. It’s especially effective contrasted against the flat-footed staggering of her human recruits, trying hopelessly to get away. This is a fine use of computer-generated imagery, not often seen in movies like this, with a cast of unknowns and a buck-ninety-eight shooting budget. It’s not every day you sit down to see a CGI horror picture and wish you had gotten to see more of the special FX.

>> I did long to see a little more knock-down-drag-out warfare between the operative and her recruits. The director led you to expect it, but it didn’t happen, at least not enough of it to satisfy me. Can’t have everything, I guess. But that does make it more realistic. We never need to resort to violence when we turn humans into fish. BUT IT DOES SOMETIMES HELP TO STAGE THE SCENE TO LOOK LIKE A CRIME. That's a tip from me to you. Not only does staging the scene conceal our activities nicely, especially when it's a celebrity recruit entering the sea, but it entertains the masses for years as they try to solve an unsolvable mystery. We have never been fingered as suspects. Everyone knows FISH DON'T COMMIT CRIMES.

>> Look at the way our heroine forms herself up out of ANY WATER AVAILABLE. This is a deeply moving message for us all, because that’s exactly how it happens in real life. When Dagon calls, you WILL be near water, whether it’s an old, rusty drinking fountain or the mighty Atlantic. The time and place will be right. And they’ll NEVER FIND YOUR BODY, at least not the important part.

>> This movie’s tagline is "Not all water is holy." This is obviously for the benefit of landscum viewers, especially Catholics who really believe that only certain specially-treated water is holy. The fact is that only some water is consecrated to the Catholic Church. But ALL water is holy, consecrated and sacred to Dagon. Have a glassful now and see.

Oh, I’ve told you enough. GO RENT IT.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ur-spo said...

but is it as good a donnie darko?

10:19 PM  
Blogger Merricat said...

What could be as good as Donnie Darko?

10:40 AM  

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