Most would agree that “The Nun” spinoff was one of the more disappointing entries in the Conjuring franchise. It lacked scares and felt a bit bland. However, I found the gothic atmosphere and creepy villain enough salvage it. “The Nun II” finds Sister Irene living an isolated life after the events of the first film. But she is recruited by the church to investigate a series of murders happening to Priests around the world. She makes her way to a boarding school in France, where she discovers Valak is still at large. Can she finally contain the evil before it spreads too far?
The best area the “Nun II” improves upon is its characters. Each person returning from the first film is accompanied with more nuance and development. Sister Irene gets some backstory that helps us understand her role as a Nun and a force for good. Frenchie on the other hand is handled as an important piece of the connection between Sister Irene and Valak, while also finding a potential love interest. I enjoyed seeing them again and look forward to what the future holds for these characters. Speaking of characters, no one is safe in the film. There were some surprising deaths and grisly sequences that were a step up from the original. However, I still believe the Nun films can go darker.
The film also chooses a nice setting to create a spooky atmosphere, trapping a group of schoolgirls at a remote boarding school. There were a few neat sequences that pulled characters into an isolated location in a dimly lit area. My favorite being when Sister Irene approached a magazine stand, only for the pages to start flipping rapidly to create Valak’s shape. Scenes like that will keep viewers in suspense. I also liked that the film felt more tied into the Conjuring universe by the end. Where they go with the story next will be exciting to see as it will likely feature Ed and Lorraine Warren (fingers crossed).
Although “The Nun II” improves certain aspects, it still has some work to do with a likely sequel on the horizon. I won’t sugar coat it, there are many teases for another movie. Much like the first film, it wasn’t very scary. It leans more so into the jump scare laden sequences of the first one. It again lacks the lingering tension in films like “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle: Creation”. Those stories showcase how truly scary these films can be, so keeping a character as scary as Valak in the background is a shame. She mainly shows up in small doses for very short periods…again. I certainly hope the filmmakers can finally get her right in the next one.
Much like the first film, this story feels flimsy. It jumps back and forth between certain character dynamics which creates an unfocused plot. Sister Irene could have used some more screen time as her character’s lore is built up in the film. While Frenchie was handled better, I was disappointed he was used as the main conduit to create conflict rather than Valek herself. The scares just aren’t as intense when it’s possessed Frenchie. This is where I hope to see more of Valak creating the scares next time. Michael Chaves is also a question mark for me. This is the third film in the Conjuring franchise that feels underwhelming under his helm. I just don’t think he has the same craft as James Wan. I hope he improves, but after a third film that isn’t very scary…my hopes won’t be very high. There is a logic issue that features a frame from “The Conjuring 2” which was very jarring. I’m not sure how it makes sense considering this film happens prior to that one.
“The Nun II” is a decent entry in the Conjuring universe. It utilizes a creepy setting and some nice character developments to create an engaging enough story. But some problems from the first remain. A lack of scares, strange logic, and absence of The Nun hold it back from being one of the better films in the series. I hope the next crew takes advantage of Valek. She’s a great villain and still feels a bit squandered here. Seeing her again is a good time, but this isn’t the hard reset we had hoped it would be.