THE NUN II
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, and Bonnie Aarons
Director: Michael Chaves
The Nun II, directed by Michael Chaves, primarily serves to perpetuate The Conjuring Universe, a collection of words that instantly incite skepticism, causing my money-grubbing defenses to be heightened. But, frankly, I believe my cynicism is justified for a sequel that delivers a toothless script and drags us along the well-worn horror genre path. The film is not without merit, though, with Taissa Farmiga delivering an outstanding performance. And the visuals are nice too. In fact, if you can make it through the boring run-up without napping, then you’ll be rewarded with an interesting ending and a few jump scares. Still… meh.
The Nun II, predictably, is a safe, unoriginal studio horror film that mostly just justifies the existence of the franchise. The film quickly falls into an annoying and predictable rhythm of jump scares, which negate the impact of the titular Nun’s frequent appearances. Although the jump scares don’t deliver, Taissa Farmiga’s amazing performance as Sister Irene certainly does, managing to breathe life into a bland and unimaginative script. What’s more, the relentless, over-the-top horror and absurd set pieces managed to hold my attention until the film’s explosive finale, just in time for the most engaging visuals and best-shot sequences.
Credit where credit is due: The Nun II does actually try to make something meaningful out of its predecessor’s dullness. Unfortunately, the resulting effort can’t quite get where it wants to be. The staying presence of the two eventually coalescing narratives is logical, but rendered inert by the fact that one is far more engaging than the other. The third act does manage to bring a little bit of punch to the otherwise slow-moving proceedings, but by then, it’s too late to not feel as if one’s wasted half the time getting there. Perhaps the third time's a charm for this series.
The Nun II packs a few creative scares, but its narrative suffers from a lack of stakes. For “The greatest evil in The Conjuring Universe,” the titular nun seems to be something of a pacifist. This demon clearly possesses enough power to kill our heroes at any time, but continuously chooses not to. It’s difficult to get invested in characters wearing this much plot armor, and it’s impossible to fear an antagonist that simply refuses to harm anyone important. It’s a shame because the film has some fantastically shot sequences, but impressive cinematography alone isn’t enough to save a script this lazy.