Sister Irene returns to battle the forces of evil in “The Nun II,” the sequel to the 2018 box office smash and the ninth installment in “The Conjuring Universe,” the highest-grossing horror franchise ever. The gothic supernatural horror film recently dominated the box office opening weekend, taking in more than $80 million in sales.
But is it worth a view? Yes, if you enjoy a good scare, and there’s enough packed into the 109-minute film’s runtime to keep you up all night.
It’s 1956 France; a priest is violently murdered, and Sister Irene begins to investigate. She once again comes face-to-face with a powerful evil.
The original isn’t required to enjoy the movie, which stands on its own merit. But the filmmakers sprinkled hidden references throughout the plot for franchise fans.
Actress Taissa Farmiga reprises her role as Sister Irene, playing her emotional range between faith and bravery, a collaboration necessary to accomplish both tender and chilling moments in the story. Rejoining the cast are Jonas Bloquet as “Frenchie” and Bonnie Aarons as the demon nun “Valak.”
Director Michael Chaves (“The Curse of La Llorona,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”) beautifully layers each scene with suspenseful imagery, considering the audience’s eye and establishing fear without diluting the creepy moments of anticipation. He cumulates elements of cinematography to build adrenaline, edging the audience toward the final act.
His best work unfolds when we find Sister Irene standing alone at a newsstand. It’s the dead of night. The street is void of people and sound; there is nothing. Slowly, the wind creeps in; she wonders if there’s something here. A street light flickers, the magazines rustle on the newsstand shelves. She turns and gives full attention to the rows of glossy covers aligned, ready to respond. The air swells, and the pages turn while product advertisements and news articles reveal the sins of our culture – greed, lust, ego, vanity, war. Then stillness as Irene waits. The pages burst into action, flipping through their contents in a haunting, rhythmic possession. Unseen, something arrives. The papers tremble, fighting against a commandment of evil channeling its way from the underworld through a gateway of our own design and into existence. The magazines freeze, and the camera pans up the newsstand, revealing the orchestrated collaboration: one full-length, unholy figure of darkness (hold tight to your neighbor for this scene).
Sadly, the sequel avoids opportunities to push “The Conjuring” brand forward. It plays within the familiar code of horror customs, bringing little satisfaction in the final scene, yet it still delivers an insatiable spook fest for horror and franchise fans alike.
“The Nun II” is a familiar addition to the franchise, emerging as a solid horror film and chilling the audience with enough fright to make it worth your while.
Don’t miss the post-credit scene that confirms a connection between Sister Irene and Lorraine Warren.
Julieanna Childs has worked as a film studio representative for 15-plus years, contracting for major Hollywood studios, including Marvel, Universal, Paramount, Disney and Warner Bros. Her film reviews and commentary can be found at TheJujuReview.com.