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The Nun II review: An uninspired and hollow sequel that offers more of the same

The sequel to 2018 film The Nun is the ninth instalment of The Conjuring franchise

The Nun II review: An uninspired and hollow  sequel that offers more of the same


  • Ryan Gomez

Last Updated: 09.50 AM, Sep 07, 2023

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Story: Set in 1956, Sister Irene Palmer (Taissa Farmiga) is tasked by the Catholic Church to investigate a series of mysterious deaths across Europe, which takes her to a boarding school in France. She is joined by the young Sister Debra (Storm Reid) on her trip to the mysterious school. They soon realise that the demonic Valak has returned and is hunting an ancient relic – using Irene’s old friend Maurice aka Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) as a vessel.


Review: The horror genre in Hollywood is something that has evolved over the years and has branched out into several subgenres that have also delivered compelling films. However, the genre has been redefined in recent years thanks to films such as X, Hereditary, Barbarian, Get Out, and Evil Dead Rise, among others. While the classic gothic horror that pivots around the occult also remains popular, largely due to the success of The Conjuring franchise, the tropes and set pieces in this subgenre have become repetitive and cliched. Unfortunately for The Nun II, it embodies the stagnation of this particular subgenre.


The Nun II does offer an eerie goth setting, and the ‘50s aesthetic also adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to the narrative. The scenes are also crafted with excellent visuals and shot composition to provide all the necessary tools to create the story’s desired atmosphere. However, they are simply not enough to elevate a dull screenplay, uninspired character arcs, and a predictable storyline. Sister Irene’s backstory does get some closure but Frenchie’s angle opens up more questions than it answers. Whereas the history of Valak and her presence in The Conjuring 2 would possibly require another film to fill the plot holes. These inconsistencies, or somewhat incomplete storylines, should have ideally been rectified in this film, or across both films dedicated to this one character.


The aforementioned drawbacks to Valak’s arc can be ignored to an extent. However, the lack of a compelling or thoroughly fleshed-out exploration of the lore surrounding Valak undermines the narrative. Valak’s motivation for hunting this relic of Saint Lucy is weak. The film never answers the question surrounding the demon’s ultimate purpose. The story also muddles the concept of Valak’s powers. Depending on the situation or scene, Valak’s powers keep fluctuating without explanation. While an elaborate exposition would’ve further relegated the screenplay to mediocrity, the narrative desperately needed rich allegorical references or even frames with symbolism to elevate the wafer-thin story riddled with plot holes.


The film’s similarities to the recent Russell Crowe film, The Pope's Exorcist, are almost undeniable. Both films share similar plotlines, but Pope's Exorcist offers a bit of humour and excellent chemistry between Crowe and his co-star Daniel Zovatto. A similar dynamic is unfortunately not replicated in The Nun II between Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid’s (Euphoria) lead characters Sisters Irene and Debra. Their performances are certainly commendable, but their characters are unfortunately poorly written. Anna Popplewell and the young Katelyn Rose Downey as the mother-daughter duo of Kate and Sophie deserved well-written characters to showcase their acting prowess.


Verdict: The Nun II leans on familiar tropes and plot devices to tell an uninspired story. The film relies on jump scares instead of a compelling character-driven narrative, or even a plot-driven narrative exploring the lore of The Conjuring universe. However, its most crippling drawback is that even the jump scares are predictable. New horror films such as X, Hereditary, Barbarian, Get Out, and Evil Dead Rise, among others, have set a new benchmark, but The Nun II falls well below it.