The Nun II
the nun | the nun ii | sequel | the conjuring | michael chaves | ian goldberg | richard naing | akela cooper | taissa farmiga | jonas bloquet | storm reid | united states | mystery | thriller | demon | possessed | possession | religion | anna popplewell | bonnie aarons | period piece
Film: The Nun II
Director: Michael Chaves
Writers: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing and Akela Cooper
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet and Storm Reid
This was a movie that I wasn’t shocked to hear about coming out. I also wondered why it took so long. The original synopsis I saw called it a worldwide hit. Financially yes. From what I’ve heard from most everyone, it was panned. I didn’t mind it but it also felt like another of the mindless, popcorn Conjuring universe films. Regardless, I did end up seeing this in the theater to support horror.
Synopsis: 1956 – France. A priest is murdered. Evil is spreading. This follows Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as she once again comes face-to-face with Valak (Bonnie Aarons), the demon nun.
We start this in a church in France. I believe that we have an alter boy who loves soccer, named Jacques (Maxime Elias-Menet), entering. He is told to get the wine from the basement by the priest. Father Noiret (Pascal Aubert) then leads Mass. After it is over, they clean up. Jacques is scared in the basement when there seems to be a figure in the dark and the bottle of wine explodes. He runs upstairs. Together, these two encounter the evil nun, Valek. It ends up with the priest burning alive. We see a man with a suitcase walking away from the church after.
This movie then splits into two stories. Also in France is a boarding school for girls. Working as the groundskeeper and maintenance person is Maurice (Jonas Bloquet). I’ll be honest, it took me a bit to realize that he is from the previous movie. He takes a liking to Kate (Anna Popplewell) who is a teacher here. Her daughter also attends, Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey). She is bullied and Maurice stands up for her. The principal is also messed with by the bullies, Madame Laurent (Suzanne Bertish), as they release cockroaches in her office from an abandoned wine cellar at the school.
The other story starts at a convent. Sister Irene has taken up residence here. A newer nun here is Debra (Storm Reid). We learn later that she is from Mississippi. She is defiant, not necessarily wanting to take the holy vows. She was pushed into this by her father. A story is told here by the nuns, which is about Irene. I’m not sure they know that.
Irene is then called back into service. There have been deaths across Europe, starting in Hungary. There seems to be a pattern involving a saint, St. Lucy (Kate Colebrook). Irene puts together that Maurice could be part of it. We also see that Valak has followed him to France. Irene catches and train. She is joined by Debra, who snuck away. Irene warns her of what they’ll face. Debra is dealing with a crisis of faith and this ordeal could help her there. It also could cost her everything in the process.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is with a problem that I had. It is with me and not necessarily the movie. I’ve seen the original one when it hit theaters. I hadn’t seen it then and nothing pulled me too. I didn’t even revisit ahead of this rewatch. This movie moves fast and I was lost for a good section early on. It didn’t help that I had a bad theater experience. I’m not going to hold this against the movie though. I’ll give credit that you can watch this without seeing the previous one as it does fill it in which I appreciated.
Let me start with the positives here. This is a violent movie. Seeing the priest caught on fire early set the tone. We then see things throughout that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. They went with an R-rating here so that makes sense now. I figured this was PG-13. The lore that we get here is good as well. There isn’t more backstory for Valak, they’re building on what we got in the previous movie, alluding to what she is looking for rather than exploring more of her past. What they’re doing here is giving a purpose to what seems like random attacks on churches across Europe. I do think this is a bit far-fetched. Knowing the rules of family trees, which would be possible though. I am going vague here to not spoil things.
Something else that I thought worked was the atmosphere. Having this set mostly in this old monastery turned winery and now into a school was good. There is this great room with a stained-glass window. I liked how the girls play a game with it and this is to set something up later. There is that old world, European darkness vibe I appreciate. I’d also say that the soundtrack here helped that foreboding feeling. That is another plus for me.
Continuing to build then, let me go the rest of the filmmaking. I thought the cinematography was good. What surprised me is that this seems to rely less on jump-scares than other movies in this series. That’s not to say that we don’t get them. We still do. It just isn’t only that. What I like about the cinematography as well is the framing. I love where there are things that we see that look like Valak. There are times that it doesn’t amount to anything. There are others where it leads to scares. I’m a fan there. I’ll also say that I’m not the biggest jump-scare fan, but what it does with them here was fine.
All that is left then for me would be the acting. I liked Farmiga and Bloquet reprising their roles. That helped to build the story as we have the built in history there. Reid was solid as our newcomer and side kick to Irene. I liked what they did at the school with Popplewell, Downey, Bertish and the rest of the students. They don’t use much of Aarons as Valak which surprised me. It is more of just a cameo there. I do like the religious stuff that we get to build the story. This just feels lacking there.
In conclusion, this is a fine sequel to a popcorn movie. We’re building off what we got previously. I think that this is just interesting with Valak being a perversion of good. There isn’t a lot of depth to this one and what we get is surface level though. The best part is the atmosphere and the score. I’d say the acting works well in bringing the characters to life, but none necessarily stands out. I’m glad this doesn’t solely rely as much on jump-scares. It also goes brutal at times. This one is a fun movie to watch once and then move on, especially if you like The Conjuring series.
My Rating: 6 out of 10