The Nun II (2023) — Movie Review

When Valak, the demonic nun, makes her initial appearance in “The Conjuring 2,” audiences are on the edge of their seats. The terrifying figure offered an intriguing glimpse into what could expand the “The Conjuring” film universe, created by James Wan. However, her solo outing in 2018’s “The Nun,” directed by Corin Hardy, proved to be a letdown. Now, its sequel, helmed by Michael Chaves, sadly follows suit.

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Set five years after the events of the original “The Nun,” the sequel puts the spotlight on Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga). She teams up with Debra (Storm Reid), a novice nun grappling with her faith. The duo is in action when the Vatican instructs Irene to perform another miracle. Far from being vanquished, Valak is back and haunting religious leaders throughout Europe. Clergy members meet horrifying ends through various demonic means. Meanwhile Irene and Debra journey to a French boarding school to unravel the malevolent entity’s intentions and banish her.

In a film where Valak should be the focal point of terror, “The Nun II” unintentionally defangs its own monster by presenting her too frequently. Excessive exposure undermines the element of surprise and dilutes the dread. With Valak appearing in every other scene, the figure loses its mystique. This transforms a menacing entity to a predictable feature in the narrative.

Chaves’ approach to horror in “The Nun II” is formulaic and reliant on overused genre tropes. The film lacks innovation, settling for traditional scare tactics such as drawn-out camera moves and booming sound effects. Rather than letting the audience discover fear naturally, the film tells viewers when to be scared. This undermines its own objective to terrify.

Farmiga’s portrayal of Irene is a silver lining in the film. She evolves from a meek character to a formidable presence. Farmiga succeeds in creating an authentic connection with Reid, even if the latter serves more as a supportive role than an equal partner. Despite Farmiga’s commendable efforts, she alone can’t save a film lacking a solid foundation.

Returning actor Jonas Bloquet, portraying Maurice, adds a touch of emotional gravitas. Now a handyman at the girls’ boarding school, his emerging romantic relationship and caring attitude towards a young girl bring emotional depth. However, even his story arc ends up feeling repetitive, leaving audiences unengaged.

“The Nun II” struggles with the same issues that plagued its predecessor: a lack of originality and a script that doesn’t deliver. Farmiga and Bloquet do their best, but their performances can’t compensate for the lackluster screenplay. Ultimately, “The Nun II” proves that not all stories are worth revisiting, especially if they lack the necessary elements to craft a compelling horror film.