Friday, May 24

“The Nun II” Review: The Malevolent Nun Returns for a Spine-Chilling Sequel That’s Sure to Keep You Hooked

“The Nun II” Review: The Malevolent Nun Returns for a Spine-Chilling Sequel That’s Sure to Keep You Hooked


The Nun II” Review: A Creepy Yet Formulaic Sequel in the “Conjuring” Franchise That Provides Familiar Scares and Atmosphere.

As the “Conjuring” franchise reaches its ninth feature entry in just a decade, it continues to establish itself as a powerhouse in the horror genre. While its mythologies may be convoluted and the scares primarily of the “jump” variety, these films offer a comforting familiarity—a reliable formula of scares that won’t disturb the sleep of non-child viewers. The franchise’s success is bolstered by talented actors and a commitment to creating superior atmospherics.

 

The Nun II" Review: A Creepy Yet Formulaic Sequel in the "Conjuring" Franchise That Provides Familiar Scares and Atmosphere.
The Nun II” Review: A Creepy Yet Formulaic Sequel in the “Conjuring” Franchise That Provides Familiar Scares and Atmosphere.

 

In defiance of the law of diminishing returns, the 2018 spinoff “The Nun” emerged as the franchise’s biggest hit to date, paving the way for “The Nun II,” a direct sequel. While the sequel improves on some aspects of its predecessor, it still falls into the category of being a good-enough but forgettable entry that will undoubtedly contribute to the franchise’s ongoing profitability.

The storyline of the previous “Nun” installment, which introduced the titular character in 2016’s “Conjuring 2,” was often cluttered and nonsensical, primarily relying on a series of “boo!” moments as novitiate Taissa Farmiga and Vatican priest Demian Bichir hunted demons in Cold War-era Romania. However, Corin Hardy’s film was visually captivating, with intricate old-school Gothic atmospherics that harked back to classic horror aesthetics, reminiscent of the works of filmmakers like Mario Bava from the 1960s or the eerie Universal backlot from the 1940s.

 

The Nun II" Review
The Nun II” Review

 

In “The Nun II,” the distinctiveness of the visual department is somewhat diminished, but it offers a more robust narrative structure. This, however, comes at the cost of sidelining Taissa Farmiga’s character, Sister Irene, for an extended period. The film begins with a chilling sequence involving a malevolent spirit terrorizing an altar boy, but it shifts to Sister Irene, who has transitioned from being a novice to living in an Italian nunnery.

The nunnery’s inhabitants are aware of the possession horrors that unfolded in Romania four years prior, but they are unaware that Irene was a witness and survivor of those events. Notably, even her friend Sister Debra, portrayed by Storm Reid, an American who entered the convent more due to familial pressure than devotion, is unaware of Irene’s past.

In “The Nun II,” as Vatican representatives seek Sister Irene’s involvement due to a series of baffling clerical deaths suggesting the return of the titular demon, the action centers around her erstwhile companion Maurice, aka Frenchie, now working at a girls’ boarding school near Aix-en-Provence. The Quebecois handyman has his own past supernatural experiences but is more focused on his budding relationship with teacher Kate and her bullied daughter Sophie. The school, once a monastery, holds dark secrets that attract the dread Demon Nun. As Maurice unwittingly carries a dangerous force, Irene and others race against time to thwart her return.

Director Michael Chaves, known for previous entries in the series, doesn’t replicate the chiaroscuro lighting and fantastical sets of the first “Nun” but makes good use of French locations. Tristan Nyby’s widescreen cinematography creates ample atmosphere in the shadowy corners of Stephane Cressend’s production design, where unsettling surprises lurk. While the scares follow the usual pattern of ghoulie-faces and evil manifestations, a goat demon provides a welcome variation. When Farmiga’s Irene finally arrives, chaos ensues, culminating in an excess of exaggerated peril and false cease-fires.

For those wondering about the connection to the broader “Conjuring” universe, a brief tag featuring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga offers some semblance of continuity. Demian Bichir’s absence from the previous film is explained dismissively with a cholera death. Primary emphasis is on Jonas Bloquet and young Katelyn Rose Downey, with Taissa Farmiga somewhat unexpectedly relegated to a secondary role at the climax. All the performers deliver solid work, even though the script doesn’t demand much nuance.

Despite a parting touch of sentimentality, it’s the journey filled with chills that matters in these movies, not the destination. Regrettably, “The Nun II” culminates in an ending reminiscent of the prior film’s inane apex, featuring a blood-spitting showdown with the demon. Marco Beltrami’s score adds to the menacing atmosphere, ensuring that the film delivers enough sound and fury to pass muster, even if its place in the overall “Conjuring” saga remains forgettable.


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