Sequels are generally tough to produce owing to enormous expectations, but The Nun II didn’t have to fill particularly large shoes.
Following a tragically disappointing first episode with The Nun in 2018, the sequel only had this to live up to, and thankfully, it succeeds with a more deliberate and well-built suspense that harkens back to the original Conjuring flicks.
Taissa Farmiga reprises her role as Sister Irene four years after the events of the previous film, when she confronts the demonic entity Valak, the Nun, at a French boarding school. It also introduces Storm Reid as Sister Debra, a new cast member who serves as a solid support system.
The sequel, like the previous movie, selects its environment wisely, with a chillingly black palette that uses dimly-lit rooms, frigid chapels, and barren cobblestoned streets to great effect. Director Michael Chaves takes full advantage of the space to build up his jump scares, and it works flawlessly – newspaper and magazine pages have never been more frightening, and that’s all we’ll say about that.
The Nun II excels in building tension, with looming views of dark corners and the iconic shadow of Valak manifesting in various items and backdrops, just like she did in her first debut in The Conjuring 2.
The pay-off with many of the jump scares, however, often feels slightly cheap due to blatant CGI and cliche delivery, letting down what started with promise – with that said, the second half of the film is much stronger as the action begins to take centre stage mostly in one location, that being the creepy boarding school.
Farmiga, the younger sister of The Conjuring icon Vera Farmiga, plays Sister Irene with heart, while the development of the supporting characters is solid overall – you genuinely root for the key players thanks to charming performances from Jonas Bloquet as Maurice and young Katelyn Rose Downey as Sophie.
This time around, more consideration has gone into Valak’s past, and there is material and opportunity for hypotheses to sink your teeth into, definitely laying the groundwork for another sequel.
When compared to other recent possession films, such as Talk To Me and Evil Dead Rise, The Nun II appears to be a bit of a predictable snoozefest, but it’s a pleasant movie on its own.
The Conjuring world has seen some dubious entries, with many of the spin-offs feeling like fast and easy money-grab productions based on the franchise’s notoriety. The Nun II, on the other hand, isn’t the worst of all, and this spin-off series has been redeemed after a rocky start.
The Nun II isn’t as good as Annabelle: Creation, which was a wonderful sequel to the disenchanting Annabelle spin-off in 2014, but it’s a lot tighter improvement on its predecessor and beautifully sets up what might be a neat ending if The Nun III completes the trilogy.