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Review: The Nun II (2023)

The Nun II (2023)

Directed by: Michael Chaves

Premise: A sequel to the 2018 movie and a spinoff of The Conjuring series. A nun (Taissa Farmiga) investigates a series of suspicious deaths of priests. She reencounters the demonic spirit in the shape of a woman of the cloth (Hadley Klein).

What Works: Hollywood films tend to portray the clergy in flat and cliché terms. These characters are either corrupt and vicious (for dramatic or comic effect) or they are Yoda-like figures of wisdom. The young nuns at the center of this film played by Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid have some humanity. Farmiga’s character is warm and there is a hint of attraction between her and a groundskeeper (Jonas Bloquet). Storm Reid’s character is uncertain about her faith and disobedient to authority but her encounter with supernatural evil makes Reid’s character focus and mature. The visuals of The Conjuring films have been uneven and that continues to be the case in The Nun II. However, there are a few extraordinary images in this picture and the filmmakers set up and execute a few set pieces very effectively.

What Doesn’t: Although a few of the set pieces are done well and there are a handful of imaginative images, The Nun II still suffers from a lot of the problems of its predecessor and many of the other Conjuring spinoff films. Among the film’s problems is its frequently murky imagery. Scenes are not lit in a way that looks spooky. It’s just ugly and hard to decipher the action. The other consistent problem of the Conjuring universe is the way it uses Christian and specifically Catholic iconography and traditions with no regard for what those symbols and rituals mean. The theology of the movie is nonsense. That’s not unusual in demonic horror movies but the filmmakers clearly want to be taken seriously but this comes across like Catholic fan fiction. For instance, part of the movie hinges upon these Catholic nuns blessing wine, ignoring the fact that in Catholicism nuns do not perform sacraments. The lack of thought is also evident in the film’s demonic monster. The Nun II is the third Conjuring film to feature this villain and it is still unclear who or what she is and what she wants. It’s all generic supernatural evil that comes across as thoughtless use of provocative imagery. The plotting is equally uninspired. In part because the evil being doesn’t have an animating desire, there’s little sense of escalation or stakes. The film plays as a string of disconnected set pieces.

Bottom Line: The Conjuring spinoff films have been mostly underwhelming and The Nun II is the clearest example yet of the fundamental problems with this series. There are isolated bits that are very good but they don’t serve a coherent story or a horrific idea.

Episode: #965 (September 17, 2023)