Sometimes you feel like fighting a nun fight.

By Rob Hunter · Published on September 9, 2023

Remember Universal’s disastrous attempt to create a new “Dark Universe” that would bring the studio’s heavyweights – Dracula, the Mummy, etc. – into a new shared cinematic world? It sputtered and died out pretty quickly, partly because Universal made the same mistake as DC by putting the franchise before the individual movie horses. James Wan We took the opposite approach with what is now referred to as The Conjuring Universe and is now considered the highest-grossing horror franchise of all time. The latest entry is one of the most satisfying yet The Nun II provides funny scary moments, unforgettable scenes and a nun-on-nun brawl that ends them all.

It’s been a few years since Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) faced the demon Varek and lived to tell the tale, but rather than rush into the glory of her achievement, she took up residence in a small French monastery. Her peace ends when news of a series of murders across Europe knocks on her door in the form of a bishop asking her to once again commit herself to the fight against evil. Priests and nuns are hanged, burned and worse, and Sister Irene’s search for answers leads her to a rural boarding school where two old “friends” are waiting for her – Maurice (Jonas Bloquet), the craftsman who saved her life in their first encounter, and Varek, the demon who takes the form of a monstrous nun (Bonnie Aarons) to mock the believers.

The Nun II is a return to form for the franchise that surpasses its predecessor in every way. Both the good and evil characters are memorable, the backstory is plentiful, and the scary moments are brought to life with some entertaining set pieces that go far beyond creepy jump scares. It does take a while to get to the really good stuff as the first half seems a bit too generic, but the film falls into place once Varek turns up the heat.

This is the director Michael Chaves‘ For the third time in The Conjuring Universe, and it’s by far his best performance yet. Hell, it’s probably his first good film as both The Curse of La Llorona (2019) and The incantation: The devil made me do this (2021) are fairly dull affairs that lack any real thrill. Chaves and cameraman Tristan Nyby Both do their best here, finding a cool atmosphere and unsettling depths in the various rooms. Stairwells and chapels of the troubled boarding school. Gone is the repetitive feeling of The nun‘s (2018) Convent, as better lighting and more engaging camerawork keep viewers on their toes throughout the third act.

The Nun IISet pieces range from the expected slow camera pans to reveal spooky events to a more stunt-heavy sequence in which floors and ceilings collapse as fire rages. A highlight introduces a new supernatural threat posed by a devilish goat in a chapel’s stained glass window, and what follows is one of the most profound scares in the entire franchise as the energy and sound design fuel the terror. The demonic nun herself has never been as scary as in Wans The incantation 2 (2016), and Chaves doesn’t do her any favors here by showcasing her a little too much, but thankfully Aarons’ performance still carries some frightening weight.

Chaves’ success here is due not least to a script (by Ian Goldberg, Richard NaingAnd Akela Cooper), which keeps things moving historically and at the same time offers us a captivating ensemble. Sister Irene is accompanied by a nun-in-training named Debra (Storm Reid), whose crisis of faith is predictably related to the current conflict, but the character still acts like a “buddy nun,” making for some nice and amusing moments between the two. The boarding school also houses a young teacher (Anna Popplewell) and her daughter Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey), both of whom find a friend in Maurice, which leads to sweet and spooky beats.

The horror of it all remains the focus for both of them The Nun II and the Conjuring universe as a whole, and that partly explains the lack of truly compelling main characters in the films. The OG Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) have been the only real exceptions so far, but the younger Farmiga has staked her own claim with her second franchise appearance. While she was a bit more passive in the first film, Sister Irene takes a more aggressive approach here and Farmiga shows a fine mix of stubborn courage and loving warmth. She kicks ass for the Lord, but still maintains her sense of humor and affection for the people around her. (So ​​yes, please give us a crossover film that reunites Sister Irene with Russell Crowe’s Vespa-driving Father Gabriel from this year’s film The Pope’s Exorcist…)

However, the film still struggles with the same problems as most religious horror films – a complete lack of any adherence to the “rules” of these supernatural threats. The nun can throw people aside through violent telekinesis, levitate godly priests, and burn them alive, but sometimes… she can’t? The writers are content to make things up as they go along, and that’s fine since religion does the same thing, but it does lead to some questionable encounters. At least they also keep the main theme of religious horror films in the unspoken recognition that your God is an idiot who won’t lift a finger to save your ass from monsters of his own making…

The Nun II is a success when it comes to supernatural horror thrills and the sequel to The Conjuring Universe. Aside from the slow beginning, it’s a fun and scary ride that pits two strong female leads against each other in a battle from which only one can emerge victorious. Creepy atmosphere, entertaining jump scares and compelling characters make it one of the best in the franchise.

Related Topics: The Conjuring Universe, The Nun

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is strange considering he’s so damn young. He’s our chief film critic and associate editor and calls Broadcast News his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hello if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.

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