The Conjuring Universe continues with The Nun II, a sequel to the 2018 movie. Ever since the first movie by James Wan was released in 2013, this cinematic universe of horror films has seen nine entries. This is another story surrounding Valak, the demon nun introduced in The Conjuring 2. The sequel brings back Taissa Farmiga and Jonas Bloquet for another outing as Sister Irene and Maurice. Although the first Nun movie was a dull, unscary attempt at cashing in on a scary character from a scarier film, this sequel is a surprisingly well-made film that surpasses the original in nearly every way.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves—The Nun 2 is not one of the year’s best horror movies. The Conjuring movies have been of varying qualities since the beginning. It’s not fantastic, but it is leaps and bounds better than the first film. This film is directed by Michael Chaves, who has now directed more entries in the series than Wan himself. Chaves started out with The Curse of La Llorona before landing the gig on The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. Although his first venture was not particularly strong, his growth as a director can be seen in each entry. Each of his films has been better than the last, and this sequel proves he was a much better fit for the series than Corin Hardy from the first one.
From the opening scene, The Nun 2 uses sound superbly. In the same way creepy sound effects and loud jump scares are important for horror, silence might be even more effective. The dread you get from the opening few scenes is exceptional, and there is one particular scene early on that immediately raises the stakes for the rest of the film. Although Chaves sometimes cannot seem to refrain from the occasional dream sequence, cheap jump scare, and dark figure passing across the camera, the direction is cleaner and more unpredictable than its predecessor.
Furthermore, the characters receive more development than they did in the first film. The 2018 movie never gets in-depth about who these people are. From the start, we learn more about Irene’s backstory with her mother, which we learn more about later. There is a greater sense of sympathy towards her, even if The Nun II doesn’t always do the best job of intertwining the characters and story. We also have Storm Reid as Debra, a sister with a few issues with authority whom Irene quickly befriends. After her appearances in The Suicide Squad and Missing, she can only be described as a sequel’s good luck charm, assuring that a project will be as good as, if not better than the original.
Farmiga and Reid are both excellent in the film, but another surprising improvement is the character of Maurice. The first time we’re introduced to Maurice in the first movie, he is presented as a promiscuous playboy who flirts with Irene right after meeting her. He’s not the easiest character to like. However, this movie’s opening scene with him involves his caring, tender relationship with a young child named Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey). He’s instantly a more investing character than he previously was. Downey is also a wonderful addition to the cast, as she portrays Sophie with a perfect amount of fear.
The Nun II is also better in terms of its lighting and framing. This is a much better-shot film than the first, as Tristan Nyby brings in some fantastic cinematography. A few scares are more out of the box than you would expect. Other scares have you not wondering what will happen, but when it will happen.
There’s an overarching sense of mystery surrounding the narrative. This existed in the first film, but the execution is much better here, even if it is narratively rough around the edges. With rich settings and a more vibrant color palette, The Nun II is a course correction from the original without ever spitting in its face. This sequel incorporates story elements from the first expertly throughout the narrative, even if the first two acts are not as interesting as they hoped to be.
After the disappointing first installment, The Nun 2 has brought the series back on track with more fright than the first. It features excellent child performances, and scares that work much better for the character. It also introduces a few new ideas into The Conjuring Universe, which may be used for future installments. As someone who was not a fan of the first movie at all, I was surprised by how much this sequel had to offer. If you were disappointed by the 2018 The Nun, this movie is sure to lift your spirits with its scarier, more unpredictable moments and imagery surrounding the antagonist — brought to life by Bonnie Aarons.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.