Sensation seekers are more likely to enjoy The Nun II, the third film featuring the demon nun Valak first introduced in The Conjuring 2 in 2016. As my seatmates during the advance screening can attest, I became a textbook example that its jump scares work, shrieking from row L of the IMAX theater about five times.
But while we recognize the cinematic mechanisms to expertly startle its audience, there is much to be desired for it to leave an impactful story. Still, it is stuck on world-building The Conjuring universe, expanding Valak’s motivation to look for a godly relic across Europe. There is a disconnect between these more cosmic aspirations in the 50s (The Nun II) and the haunting of an English family in the 70s (The Conjuring 2). What made the demon nun settle to disrupt a household two decades after is puzzling. No judgment though, Valak, we can change dreams anytime.
The ending of The Nun, released in 2018, also referenced possession victim Maurice/Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) being exorcised by the Warrens. The events of The Nun II are too far from the timeline, which means it is not the last time we will see the demon nun.
However, the danger of reintroducing the antagonist for the nth time, being overpowered and then being beaten again, could set in a Valak fatigue. Whatever the film producers are planning down the road should tie in with every flashback and mid-credits epilogue, lest they lose the cohesiveness of a shared cinematic universe they set out to do.
As for historical accuracy, by this time, viewers have embraced its ridiculousness so they can throw that out of the window. Still, even a supernatural story needs some logic and believability.
There is the predicament of how the Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) will enter the picture. The last two movies, all relied on one single nun with precognitive powers, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga). Irene did get help from Father Burke (Demián Bichir) but was conveniently written out as a Cholera fatality.
In Nun II, Irene is aided by a younger nun, Debra (Storm Reid), who serves as “deus ex machina” in the movie. The character first notices a relevant painting, triggers Irene’s memories of her mother, finds missing clues Batman-style, and even appears when Irene faints from her visions. Debra seems to exist to move the story.
There are also some production flaws, particularly how a crowded boarding school would only show a handful of students awake on a chaotic and literally earth-shaking night. The student population might be deep sleepers.
Not much was also explained about how Maurice knows about the murders he is committing while being possessed by Valak. He leaves a trail of victims and moves to another job, in another country. Never mind that the handyman’s paycheck fits the budget for his travels, the HR did not even do a background check.
The cinematography of The Nun II is astounding. The movie plays with lights and shadows to balance out the outright gore of the movie, especially scenes involving the killing of children.
While it suffers in comparison to recent horror hits Talk to Me and Evil Dead Rise, The Nun II can be a fun movie experience to watch with scaredy-cats.
Rated R-13, The Nun II opens in Philippine cinemas on Sept. 6. Stay for a mid-credits scene. Watch the trailer below.