‘The Nun II’ Review: Serviceable Sequel Offers More of the Same


You can’t keep a good demon down — not when they can still bring in the crowds.

You might have thought the title character met its end in 2018’s The Nun, having been fed the blood of Christ and all. But since that film became the highest-grossing entry in the Conjuring Universe, there was little doubt that it would return in a sequel featuring a Roman numeral in its title. Thus arrives The Nun II, bringing you more of the same, only with even more jump scares engineered by sadistic sound technicians who crank the volume up to 11 as if they were torturing lab animals.

Related Stories

The Nun II

The Bottom Line Nun too original.

Release date: Friday, Sept. 8
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, Bonnie Aarons, Katelyn Rose Downey, Suzanne Bertish
Director: Michael Chaves
Screenwriters: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing, Akela Cooper
Rated R, 1 hour 50 minutes

Directed by Michael Chavis, a Conjuring veteran who previously helmed the entries The Curse of La Llorona and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (how was that last one not a parody?), this 1956-set installment once again features Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene, the gentlest-looking of nuns who, when push comes to shove, can more than hold her own with a demon. Also returning is Jonas Bloquet as Maurice, affectionately known as “Frenchie,” who saved her life in the first film.

Sister Irene is now living incognito in an Italian nunnery in which one of the other nuns helpfully brings uninitiated viewers up to speed by relating the events of the previous film as if it were a bedtime story, unaware that the demon slayer she’s talking about is but a few feet away. But just when Sister Irene thought she was out, the Catholic Church pulls her back in, ordering her to perform another miracle and investigate a series of mysterious deaths alarmingly similar to the ones that occurred a few years back. Unfortunately, this time she won’t be joined by Father Burke, played by Demian Bichir in the last film. The explanation she’s given is that he died of cholera, which in screenwriting terms is code for “failed contract negotiation.”

Accompanied by a younger fellow nun, Sister Debra (Storm Reid, Euphoria), Sister Irene heads to France, where she has a series of encounters with her former nemesis, the demon nun Valak (a fearsome Bonnie Aarons), who bears an unnerving resemblance to Marilyn Manson. In one of those meetings, Valak rearranges the pages of a newsstand magazine display to reveal an image of herself, which makes you think that if she’d only stop possessing people, she’d be able to score a contemporary art gallery installation.

Eventually the trail leads Sister Irene to a girl’s boarding school in France, where Maurice is now working as a custodian in between befriending a bullied student (Katelyn Rose Downey) and coyly flirting with her mother (Anna Popplewell), one of the teachers. Unfortunately, it turns out that during their last encounter, Valak took the opportunity to possess Maurice, who now occasionally lapses into catatonic states and bouts of what looks like an early form of break dancing. You won’t be surprised to learn that all hell literally starts breaking loose, with Maurice entering into full demonic mode and Sister Irene once again forced to go all exorcist on Valak’s ass.

The filmmaker does a fine job creating a suitably ominous atmosphere (the old-world European locations and Tristan Nyby’s gloomy cinematography really help) and orchestrates the violent mayhem, much of it involving terrified little girls, with disturbing relish. One could argue that there’s way too much screaming going on — I mean, after you’ve seen the demon four or five times, is it really that shocking? — but that’s a minor complaint.

Farmiga, whose older sister Vera plays Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring films (this franchise is a veritable family annuity), plays her role perfectly, infusing Sister Irene with a trembling vulnerability that makes it all the more impactful when she inevitably gets the better of that nasty demon. And Bloquet is such an engaging, quietly charismatic presence that it’s a shame he’s forced to don contact lenses and make funny faces when his character becomes fully possessed in the film’s lengthy climactic section.  

Full credits

Production: Atomic Monster, The Safran Company, New Line Cinema
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, Bonnie Aarons, Katelyn Rose Downey, Suzanne Bertish
Director: Michael Chaves
Screenwriters: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing, Akela Cooper
Producers: Peter Safran, James Wan
Executive producers: Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Gary Dauberman, Michael Clear, Judson Scott, Michael Polaire
Director of photography: Tristan Nyby
Production designer: Stephane Cressend
Editor: Marco Beltrami
Costume designer: Agnes Beziers
Casting: Rose Wicksteed
Rated R, 1 hour 50 minutes


Leave a Reply