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A Nun’s Curse Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Uncork'd Entertainment

a nuns curse poster large

Written and directed by Tommy Faircloth
2020, 73 minutes, Not Rated
Released on May 12th, 2020

Felissa Rose as Sister Monday
Erika Edwards as Ashley-Kae
Kristy Ray as Gabby
Damian Maffei as Anthony
Gunner Willis as Michael

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I must admit that when I go into any film, I try resolutely not to have any preconceived notions. However, this is nunsploitation, and that religious subgenre comes with some things that just pop into your head – pointed and deliberate blaspheming, some nudity, a cross used to kill in some fashion, and heavy iconography. While A Nun’s Curse doesn’t take a pass at all those things, it forgoes enough of them (while engaging in a balancing amount of genre tropes) to be a uniquely flavored (mixed) breath of fresh air, like a sneaky communion burp that you just can’t suppress.

Ashley-Kae (Erika Edwards; Lorelei) is a bit on the odd side. She’s crazy about nuns, history, photography…and nuns. She’s fixated on one nun in particular: Sister Monday (Felissa Rose; Sleepaway Camp, Victor Crowley), a renegade nun who supposedly murdered a large number of prisoners under her care (and this following a highly suspicious fire that burned the church to the foundation). Before she could be caught, she disappeared into thin air. Ashley-Kae grew up hearing stories about Sister Monday from her father and was petrified as a result. Now a college student, she’s on a trip to her family’s vacation cabin with her shallow sister, Gabby (Kristy Ray; Pieces of Talent), Gabby’s perverted and juvenile boyfriend, Anthony (Damian Maffei; The Strangers: Prey at Night), and the proverbial dorky third-wheel, Michael (Gunner Willis; Dollface). When Anthony’s keys go missing, the group is forced to take shelter for the night in the very prison where Sister Monday held unholy court. Does that kind of evil ever really die, or is there more to it than that?

Writer/director Tommy Faircloth (Dollface) subverts some expectations with A Nun’s Curse, and that is absolutely not a bad thing. From the opening shot, it looks much cleaner and higher budgeted than I expected. I don’t mean that to sound like damning praise; it’s a good-looking film with a slew of artfully chosen shots big and small (such as that simple foot-tracking up the stairs). What I mean is that nothing about the movie looks cheap or cheesy. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish with a lot of indie horror. Tommy Faircloth’s career will definitely bear some watching if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down.

By driving right past the nudity and blasphemy for blasphemy’s sake, A Nun’s Curse automatically takes a different tone that most nunsploitation films. Early on, though, you’ll think it’s headed that way. The characters of Gabby and Anthony are thoroughly dislikable. While there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, there’s a shallow and juvenile quality to both that sets your teeth on edge. Then a funny thing happens: They grow on you (and not just for the running anal sex joke, either).

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What gets lost in the mire of early horror tropes (outlandish setup, lost keys, no cell signal, discordant piano music) is the building chemistry of the cast. A Nun’s Curse keeps it intimate (four leads and the titular evil nun…more on Felissa Rose in a minute). The sisters incessant and ugly bickering feels real, and we pretty much all know a douche like Anthony. Gunner Willis is flat-out endearing as the hopeless tagalong friend, bringing a Jason Segel quality to his role. By the time the blood starts to flow, you still dislike Gabby and Anthony, but you really don’t want to see Michael get it.

Still, have you ever known a sweet nun? Especially one named Sister Monday?

Felissa Rose plays it appropriately stern, bringing all the Catholic judgment and harsh glare you could possibly ask for. In her “flashback” scenes (i.e. where she’s not undead) she’s almost understated. It makes her crimes more severe and jarring, and Felissa Rose has just the right striking physical appearance for the effect to truly set in. When she’s undead, she’s a legit horror show. It doesn’t even take much from an SFX standpoint – a little cold and veiny makeup with some opaque white lenses, and her natural beauty sours wonderfully. The tight wimple completes the look. And that crucifix of death? Thank God they didn’t eschew that old standby. It’s so classic and the prop design is clean.

From both a writing and directing standpoint, Tommy Faircloth deserves some love for daring to take it in a hinted direction that almost completely belies what you’re expecting. It’s not so much an “I didn’t see that coming” moment as it is a “You went there!” moment. More fleshing out of the church fire backstory could’ve grown both the running time and the story to some degree, but that’s no deal breaker. This is a film anchored by performances, chemistry, and directorial choices.

I could’ve used a bit more of Felissa, but I digress…

A Nun’s Curse is one of those films that will have you swinging your thinking 180 degrees as it unfolds. It’s a bit like a good card trick. You’re looking over here while the real action is happening, and then it hits you. The cool part is that you don’t feel duped. And is that a little message about the power of psychological health as opposed to religious devotion I’m picking up on?

Is it just me?

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Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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