Faith and belief drive The Conjuring cinematic Universe that finds its heart and soul in Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The spin-off 2018 The nun and its new sequel, The Nun II, have tried to recreate that magic, right down to casting Vera Farmiga’s younger sister Taissa in the lead role as a demon-fighting nun. This decision leaves the viewer searching in vain for a narrative thread connecting Taissa Farmiga’s sister Irene and Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine, but it’s just one of the many silly decisions in this series that leaves us wondering what we’re watching and why.
Early The Nun IISister Irene tries to convince a skeptic of the power of faith by explaining that believing that the communion wine is the blood of Christ means this. Still The Nun II is so utterly absurd that it fails to get the audience to buy into its own logic and central mythology. This horror film may only succeed in getting viewers to react to its jump scares rather than creating a relentless mood of fear or terror, but it’s still progress The nun or director Michael Chaves’ first entry into the franchise, 2019 The Curse of La Llorona.
The Nun II sets up a rematch between Sister Irene and Valak that is better than their first meeting.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Valak, the evil demon who manifests himself as a sinister nun, was defeated in the end The nun by Sister Irene and Father Burke (Demian Bichir) in Romania – or so they thought. The Nun II is set four years later, when mysterious deaths that look like Valak’s handiwork appear across Europe, moving west and attracting the attention of the Catholic leadership. With her experience fighting demons, Irene is the only one they trust to fight this evil again, even though she apparently didn’t finish the job the first time. She reluctantly travels to France to investigate, alongside rebellious sister Debra (Storm Reid), who is as eager to help her friend as she is to escape the rules imposed by her vows.
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Irene quickly comes to the conclusion that Maurice aka Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) may have been obsessed with Valak when they met in Romania, although no one else thought to suspect the French-Canadian handyman who keeps popping up and then disappears again right after someone dies violently. Irene’s true calling may not be that of a nun, but that of a top detective. Soon Irene and Debra encounter something other than just Valak, and this time they have to do more than spit a vial of Christ’s blood in his face (the coolest and most memorable moment of The nun‘s first trip). It’s not entirely clear what Valak’s enormous powers are and how he possesses Maurice, but taking the time to figure out exactly what he’s capable of puts more thought into it than the screenwriters did.
The nun movies Traffic is portrayed in outright terror rather than atmospheric horrors that linger longer in the audience. But what sets the sequel apart from the first film is that this time these horrors actually achieve their goals. The Nun II won’t give die-hard horror fans nightmares, but it will at least keep them awake during its running time, whereas the first film largely elicited yawns. Valak is impressively creepy when he is disembodied, seen as a figure in the shadows of peeling paint or flipping through magazines on a shelf. But after appearing in three films, Valak is now old hat (or an old guy, so to speak). The demon was far scarier when he first appeared The incantation 2 when it was inside The nun or its sequel, especially now that audiences are hooked on the franchise’s jump-scaring tricks. Yet despite his increasing familiarity, Valak still manages to unsettle by speaking to the power of the original character design and Bonnie Aarons’ performance. The Nun II never quite reaches the frightening heights of the early ones incantation films, but there are more scary moments than its predecessor.
The Nun II contains few surprises, but enough scares to (barely) justify its existence.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Akela Cooper gets a screenwriting credit alongside Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, but those expecting the crazy fun of her previous work M3GAN And Malignant will be largely disappointed. The Nun II is enjoyably silly at times, but mostly it takes what’s going on pretty seriously and follows the path you’d expect, with one absolutely wild exception. There are a few good jokes throughout the film, and The Nun II plays briefly with interesting ideas, such as the intersection of horror and Catholic martyrdom. However, this is more about creating a few jump scares than engaging in anything truly unsettling or thought-provoking.
These films also don’t place much emphasis on historical or geographical background, which is a shame considering the series spans decades and continents. While The Nun II is set in France in 1956 and was even filmed on location in an abandoned church. This gives no insight into how the film is shot and there is no real sense of place and time. Everyone speaks English, and there are no details or peculiarities to give any sense of realism – or a modicum of care on the part of the filmmakers.
If you’ve managed to make it through all eight (count ’em, eight) previous films in the series, The Nun II will prove pleasing enough. This entry excuses the worst sins of spin-offs; It’s sometimes sillier than it is scary, but it’s never as boring as its immediate predecessor or Chaves’s The Curse of La Llorona. A mid-credits scene offers a pointless piece of fan service that’s hardly worth sticking around for, but what’s another three minutes when you’ve already picked up eight films?
The Nun II hits theaters on September 8th.