The Nun: 8 Movies Like The 2018 Horror Film You Must See

Directed by Corin Hardy, ‘The Nun’ is a horror movie that presses the pommel on the dagger of time and takes us back to the early 1950s. Set in the ‘The Conjuring’ universe, the narrative progresses as a Father, Anthony Burke (Demián Bichir), and a young nun, Irene (Taissa Farmiga), arrive at Saint Cartha’s monastery in Romania to investigate the suicide of one of its sisters and ultimately confront a demonic entity that has taken the form of a nun that makes them question their very faith. The cast includes Taissa Farmiga as Irene, and Demián Bichir as Father Burke along with Jonas Bloquet, and Bonnie Aarons in significant roles.

What makes this ‘The Conjuring 2’ prequel different is that its horror element challenges the very faith of Christianity. The Church is the target and in a way seemingly uses the motif of surrendering to a higher power, clearly God, as a synonym for being possessed (by a demon). If you look at it from a more general angle, it is the very presence of evil inside the house of God. It cannot get worse. Or can it? Here are our horror movie recommendations that are similar to The Nun.

8. The Pope’s Exorcist (2023)

Directed by Julius Avery, this horror movie is inspired by real events included in the memoirs of Father Gabriele Amorth (Russell Crowe), who served as a chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome. Amorth is sent to Spain to look into the possession of a kid named Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) who, along with his mother and elder sister, has just shifted to an abbey left for them by their dead father. Assisted by a local Father by the name of Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), Amorth tries to exorcise the demon out of the boy but fails. Soon, he finds out that the possession is part of a dark chapter in the abbey’s past, dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, that the Church covered up.

Like in ‘The Nun’, ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ involves the church in the confrontation with evil. In a way, we can say that God is challenged which is pretty much the premise of ‘The Nun’. Remember the writing on the door that said “God ends here”?  Well, there is no writing in ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ but the movie does make it clear that the strength of the devil requires a lot more than faith in God especially when His jurisdiction is nowhere to be found.

7. The Exorcism of God (2021)

The narrative of ‘The Exorcism of God’, directed by Alejandro Hidalgo, takes the test of faith to a whole different level as Father Peter Williams (Will Beinbrink), already with a past of possession that led him to commit a sin, arrives a small Mexican town only to face the same demon 18 years later. This time its victim is a young woman, Esparanza (María Gabriela de Faría). In order to save her, Peter will have to confess the sin he committed, one that more than questions his faith and religion. The movie shows the demon taking the shape of Jesus Himself only to re-establish the motif of faith questioned and the absence of the Almighty, reminding us that indeed “God ends here”. The theme of the absence of God is what connects this movie to ‘The Nun’.

6. The Unholy (2021)

‘The Unholy’, directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, is the most visual representation of a demonic entity posing as not even God but God’s Mother, the Virgin Mary. Alice (Cricket Brown), a young woman who is deaf, miraculously heals and is able to heal the sick after a supposed visit by the Virgin Mary in Banfield, Massachusetts. Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a journalist looking for a breaking story, tries to dig deeper into the case only to doubt whether it is the Virgin Mary in her or something much less benevolent, if not diabolical. Both ‘The Unholy’ and ‘The Nun’ explore the theme of doubt in one’s faith. However, the former raises the bar that the latter sets by showing how a demonic entity fools people into thinking that it is a God only to take advantage of them.

5. The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

‘The Curse of La Llorona’ has been directed by Michael Chaves. Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini), mother of two, ignores the admonitory anguish of another mother (Patricia Velasquez) who has just lost her two young kids, only to have her own children subjected to oppression by a malevolent spirit. A curse seems to have befallen them and what follows is the resurfacing of the eternal battle between good and evil.

For those of you who do not know, the movie is a part of the Conjuring universe. Now, disregarding this fact, it is the women-centric nature of the two movies that connect them. Not only the main character, Irene in ‘The Nun’ and Anna in ‘The Curse of La Llorona’, but even the evil entities, Valak and La Llorona respectively, are shown as female. One can say easily that this very nature adds to the purity of the two opposite forces that in turn make their confrontation more metaphysically organic.

4. The Rite (2011)

Starring Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins and Toby Jones, ‘The Rite’ has been directed by Mikael Håfström. The narrative progresses as we see Michael (O’Donoghue), a skeptical deacon, is advised by Father Matthew (Jones) to study exorcism at the Vatican where he gets in touch with Father Lucas (Hopkins). Lucas is involved in the ‘purification’ of a young girl and with everything that occurs, Michael’s distrust in God and Evil and his lack of faith are questioned. As the state of the girl worsens, he will have to give in to faith. Will he be able to do that?

This movie looks at the God-Evil dynamic from the other end i.e. it is a test of a person’s faith which if unsuccessful, will lead to the victory of evil. To compare ‘The Nun’ with this movie is to see them both as a battle of two powerful entities, each trying to establish itself over the other. Also, it is a test of Michael’s faith that is akin to what Irene is struggling with in ‘The Nun’.

3. The Witch (2015)

Robert Eggers has directed ‘The Witch’ whose narrative is set in 17th century England. It tells the story of a Puritan family, William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine (Kate Dickie), and their kids Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson), that is banished by its community due to religious differences and settles in the outskirts of a forest. They have 4 kids and the wife gives birth to the fifth in their new home. Unfortunately, the baby, Samuel, mysteriously disappears.

Unbeknownst to the family, this disappearance is only the first of the many supernatural events that they are about to undergo, including Caleb’s death, a pact with a goat, and the disappearance of more family members. From being banished due to religious differences to the pact with a goat which is a symbol of the devil (especially in witchcraft from which the movie gets its title), there are multiple aspects of the movie that connect it to the God vs. Devil motif as seen in ‘The Nun’.

2. The Medium (2021)

This Thai horror movie has been directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun. It follows Nim (Sawanee Utoomma), who believes that she is a shamaness possessed by the goddess Ba Ya. When her niece Mink (Narilya Gulmongkolpech) begins to show unusual signs, Nim thinks that she is ready to receive Ba Ya’s spirit from her. But is she really? Or has something else taken hold of her? Religion is seamlessly woven into the plot of this movie in a way that perhaps transcends what ‘The Nun’ does. We are forced to doubt the very authenticity of the God in question.

1. Incantation (2022)

Directed by Kevin Ko, ‘Incantation’ is a Taiwanese horror movie that incorporates a God rather than evil as the primary motif of horror. Li Ronan’s daughter is subjected to a curse that has returned after six years. She is the one to have awakened it by entering a tunnel against strict rules. She requests us, the viewers, to help her lift the curse from her daughter by reciting an “incantation”.

This breaking of the 4th wall, along with the curse and its origin, whose root cause is a god, Mother Buddha, set the movie apart from the rest. The movie tries to smudge the line between good and evil by showing how surrender sometimes becomes possession, in an equally horrifying way than ‘The Nun.’

Read More: Is The Nun Based on a True Story?