While they change the formula slightly, The Nun II mostly treads similar ground to the original and has excessive jump scares.
PLOT: 1956 – France. A priest is murdered. An evil is spreading. The sequel to the worldwide smash hit follows Sister Irene as she once again comes face-to-face with Valak, the demon nun.
REVIEW: Given that I was one of about a dozen people who really enjoyed the first Nun when it was released, I was pleasantly surprised when a sequel was announced. Like Annabelle before, The Nun had some great elements that didn’t come together completely. And also like Annabelle: Creation, The Nun II looks to course correct to make it into a more viable franchise. So gone is Franco Nero as the old Priest; instead, we have a relatively young (and predominantly female) cast. This already helps to separate it from the original and gives it a makeover. But you may have to look elsewhere if you want something that completely reinvents the wheel.
The Nun II follows the first film’s events, with Maurice, AKA Frenchie, possessed by the demon and making his way across Europe in search of something mysterious. Sister Irene (Farmiga) is informed that the demon nun Valak is still alive, and she is the only person the church has to fight her. I always felt that Taissa Farmiga was a little stiff initially as she contended with the old-timey speak, but she’s much improved here. It was nice to see her take her place as a strong character after all the struggles she went through. She’s no longer the meek little nun from the first film and is much more on top of things. I also really enjoyed Storm Reid, even if her character is a bit undeserved.
I was extremely excited to see Jonas Bloquet’s Maurice return, as his chemistry with Farmiga is great. I really love what they do with his character, as they could have easily excised him and used a different excuse to involve Valak in the proceedings. I also think setting the film in a former monastery turned boarding school was a brilliant decision. This allowed for so many great visuals while providing a host of potential victims, which helped elevate the tension. There was even a death early on that I wasn’t expecting, which seemed to raise the stakes. Unfortunately, this almost feels like a false promise, as the bloodshed is quite light for the rest of the film. In fact, I was shocked to see that this one was Rated R as it could have easily earned a PG-13 with a few cuts. I actually have a hard time thinking of anything in this that I haven’t seen on Cable TV.
If you’re not a fan of jump scares, then you may struggle with this one as it’s essentially Jump Scare City. It gets to the point that they immediately start building tension for the next one as soon as one scare happens. This works quite cleverly a few times but gets really tired after a while. Had they done just a few less, it would have left more of an impact. And I feel like I need to give a special shoutout to Bonnie Aarons, who plays the titular Nun. Aarons is currently involved with a lawsuit against the studio, accusing them of unfairly compensating her for her image. Given how important Aaron’s visage is to the film, this is an absolute travesty. I know I’m rooting for Ms. Aarons, as these films wouldn’t be the same without her unique look.
It’s been pretty impressive to see where they’ve taken the series that started as an ancillary villain of another movie. I wouldn’t be upset if this were the end of the character as this both wrapped up loose ends from the first while providing a satisfying conclusion. But if you weren’t a fan of the first film, I can’t imagine this one changing your mind. This follows many of the same beats as the original and doesn’t do much outside of what you would expect. The CGI is improved in spots, but some moments will still have you shaking your head. However, if you’re just going into this wanting some tension-filled jump scares and great visuals, there are worse ways to spend a Friday night.
THE NUN II is IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE ON SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-nun-2-review/