When The Nun graced our screens in 2018, it left many fans of The Conjuring Universe unimpressed and underwhelmed myself included. However, The Nun II, directed by Michael Chaves, emerges as a pleasant surprise, a compelling sequel that successfully redeems the franchise. With a screenplay written by Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing, and Akela Cooper, based on Cooper’s story, this film is a thrilling and chilling addition to the series.
The story begins in 1956 in Tarascon, France, where Father Noiret and Jacques, two members of the clergy, witness a terrifying incident that sets the tone for the film. This gripping opening scene immediately immerses the audience in the world of supernatural horror.
Fast forward to the present day, and we find Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) living a secluded life in Italy, still haunted by her experiences at Saint Cartha’s monastery. Meanwhile, Maurice (Jonas Bloquet), one of the survivors of the previous encounter, works at a boarding school in France. The film introduces a new character, Sister Debra (Storm Reid), who defies authority to join Irene on her quest to confront the malevolent force that has resurfaced.
The film masterfully intertwines the characters’ stories, creating a sense of impending doom that steadily escalates as the narrative unfolds. Irene’s visions of Maurice’s distress drive her to investigate a series of mysterious deaths across Europe, ultimately leading her to Tarascon.
The visual storytelling in The Nun II is outstanding. Chaves employs a variety of techniques to create tension and unease. The use of dark, atmospheric settings, eerie sound design, and well-timed jump scares keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The scene in which Irene is choked by Valak (Bonnie Aarons) is particularly intense and showcases Chaves’ ability to craft suspenseful sequences.
The character development in The Nun II is a notable improvement over its predecessor. Taissa Farmiga’s portrayal of Sister Irene is emotionally charged and believable. Her character’s internal struggles and determination to confront evil are conveyed with depth and authenticity. In my perfect world, Farmiga would snag herself an Oscar nom for her performance here. Storm Reid’s Sister Debra brings a fresh perspective to the story, adding an element of youthful innocence and curiosity. The dynamic between Irene and Debra is well-crafted and adds depth to their characters.
The film’s plot takes a fascinating turn when the duo investigates the history behind the demon they are facing. The revelation that Valak was an angel rejected by God adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. The quest for the relic of St. Lucy’s eyes, along with the demon’s motive for seeking it, keeps the audience engaged.
One of the film’s standout moments occurs within the boarding school’s abandoned chapel, where Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey) is tormented by her classmates. The imagery of the mosaic with the goat’s eye glowing red is both visually striking and symbolic. This scene effectively sets the stage for the climax of the film.
While The Nun II maintains its horror roots with terrifying moments and gruesome imagery, it also delves into themes of faith, sacrifice, and the power of love. Irene’s revelation about the transformation of wine into the blood of Christ through prayer is a thought-provoking and inventive twist that adds depth to the story’s resolution.
The film’s cast delivers commendable performances. Taissa Farmiga carries the weight of the film on her shoulders and does so admirably. Jonas Bloquet convincingly portrays Maurice’s internal struggle as he grapples with the demonic presence within him. Storm Reid’s portrayal of Sister Debra brings a refreshing energy to the story, and Katelyn Rose Downey shines as the vulnerable yet resilient Sophie.
Every so often, the film can stray just a bit too far without showing anything all that creepy, and it’s here in which the film can be a bit of a drag. Certain scenes will be more entertaining than others as well, and a twist in the third act can feel a little bit corny, but not enough to detract from the overall viewing experience.
The Nun II is a remarkable improvement over its predecessor. Michael Chaves demonstrates his talent for creating suspenseful and visually striking horror sequences, while the cast delivers compelling performances. The film successfully redeems the franchise by delivering a captivating story with genuine scares and thought-provoking themes. If you, like me, were disappointed by the first The Nun, I strongly recommend giving the sequel a chance; you may be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.
The Nun II Review: A Grittier and More Captivating Sequel
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 6.5/106.5/10
- Setting/Theme - 7/107/10
- Watchability - 8/108/10
- Rewatchability - 7/107/10