The Nun II – movie review

The genuinely creepy horror-thriller The Nun II harks back to The Nun (2018), in which a demonic sister named Valak ran riot. Well … now she’s back, at her malevolent worst.

Valak terrifies adults and children alike. And, again, the Vatican prevails on Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), now entrenched in the work of the church, to exorcise the demon. She is called into service again following the fiery death of a priest in Tarascon in France. Joining her is Sister Debra (Storm Reid), a strong and forthright novice who is questioning her own beliefs before taking this journey. Their “adventure” sees them travel to a boarding school in Aix-en-Provence. The only other survivor (other than Sister Irene) who has faced Valak, Maurice (Jonas Bloquet), works there as a maintenance man.

He has befriended a bright but bullied student, Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey). Sophie’s mother Kate (Anna Popplewell) is a teacher at the school and she, too, warms to Maurice’s friendly and respectful manner. It however seems that strange and frightening events are happening at this place, which threaten everyone’s well-being.

A fresh team of writers and a new director has been brought in for this sequel and the movie is better for it. Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing and Akela Cooper have worked with the characters that James Wan and Gary Dauberman created. Direction for The Nun II is from Michael Chaves, who was at the helm of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021). This film is also in The Conjuring universe, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.

There are several threads at play here, which take a while to work through until it becomes clear what’s happening. I quite enjoyed the narrative arc and how events in one location connected with another. At first, the scares are relatively selective, although the tropes of the horror thriller genre are evident. The darkness, the sound, the build-ups to the nastiness are all well realised. Towards the end, when everything is a lot clearer, matters take a considerable turn. Evil is everywhere and there is no escaping it.

As far as I am concerned, the elongated finish stretched beyond acceptance. I have a “less is more” philosophical position and here the filmmakers have gone way over the top, throwing in the proverbial kitchen sink. It all becomes pretty preposterous. Until that point though, I found The Nun II involving and engaging.

I thought the lead actors all performed strongly; their characterisations were diverse and appealing. Taissa Farmiga brings resilience to her role, while there is a no-nonsense attitude from Storm Reid. Jonas Bloquet exudes decency, Katelyn Rose Downey is measured and Anna Popplewell reserved.

A foreboding air permeates this sequel; which is infinitely better than the original, but is let down in the run home. While knowledge of the original is helpful, it’s not essential. You can appreciate “chapter 2” without having seen The Nun. Do stay on as the final credits roll though, because a surprise is in store.

Alex First

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