Print & Features Editor Jess Parker finds The Nun II to be a superfluous yet super-enjoyable addition to the popular Conjuring franchise
2023’s sequel to 2018’s The Nun, The Nun II returns audiences to horror-heavyweight James Wan’s The Conjuring Universe by taking one of the franchise’s more disappointing entries, and surprisingly producing something not half-bad. Once again, the franchise follows Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), the terror-struck heroine of the first film, as she tracks down Valak (Bonnie Aarons), a demonic entity that mocks the Christian Faith by choosing to take the form of the eponymous nun.
Possibly expectedly for a pretty goofy flick like The Nun II, Sister Irene is coincidentally the only nun on this Earth with the ability to vanquish the demon. The film never delves too deeply into how the church knows that Sister Irene is the chosen one, however, I doubt that audiences will care too much. The Nun II is ‘soft’ horror in the sense that things are going on and we don’t necessarily care to ask why we are enjoying them.
As is often the case with sequels, the plot feels grander than that of The Nun, venturing out from one specifically possessed location by allowing Valak to travel attached to a demonically possessed individual. Eventually, Valak lingers in a French boarding school, seeking a religious relic that would allow the demon to harness divine power. Although the plot certainly sounds familiar, The Nun II does manage to differ from its predecessor by using its new setting to reveal a pure kind of juvenile horror. Valak’s unconventional pilgrimage across Europe ultimately broadens the extent of what we initially through this demonic entity could do, subsequently, broadening its horror.
The Nun II enlists a new director in Michael Chaves, a fact that seems to be entirely to the film’s advantage. The film is incredibly creative in its use of light and shade, placing Valak equally in both plain sight and lurking in the shadows. The supernatural horror plays upon its gothicisms, not simply for the sake of its recognisable aesthetic, but also to enhance the tension that is built by Valak’s ever-present presence. Valak becomes a force that appears across the film as an entity that has escaped its initial confines and transcended into an entirely terrifying constant. Through this, the film does not rely on The Conjuring Universe’s standard brand of jump scares. Although there are one or two which are surprisingly successful, the film favours tense undertones of terror over sudden and fleeting frights.
Granted – there was absolutely no need for this film to be made, but I am happy that it was. In many ways, The Nun II far outshines the series’ first film: it is quicker, it is darker and it is, essentially, a little sillier. In the world of The Nun II, things just happen. Audiences don’t need this film to take itself too seriously, as if it did, I reckon it would be pretty boring. All audiences need to see is a silly little nun chase after another, slightly meaner and uglier, silly little nun.
The Nun II is available to stream now.
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