As the ninth installment from the Conjuring Universe, “The Nun II” is at least more redeeming than its predecessor.
Acting as a sequel to Hardy’s “The Nun” (2018), “The Nun II” picks up after Sister Irene’s (Taissa Farmiga) return from Romania. As the camera pans over a train track enveloped by luscious greenery, the audience is met with Sister Irene’s apprehensive look.
Sent by the Cardinal to Tarascon, Sister Irene must investigate several mysterious deaths that have been linked back to the entity Valack. Joined by Sister Debra (Storm Reid), they navigate the horrors Valack poses throughout Europe.
Perhaps one of the most visually engaging scenes “The Nun II” has to offer takes place with Sister Irene running into an alleyway, upon where she is met with a magazine stand. The myriad of magazine pages flip synchronously, finally revealing a chilling image of the Nun as Sister Irene watches, seemingly paralyzed. However, one’s engrossment within the scene is quickly lost as the proceeding jumpscare becomes too predictable.
The next morning, Sister Irene and Debra meet with a librarian, and “The Nun II” starts to become more lore-heavy, aligning with the patterns commonly present in the Conjuring Universe. The librarian details the tale of St. Lucy’s burning to the two sisters, explaining that although St. Lucy was lit on fire, she was saved by a miracle and in return, a pair of her eyes still remained somewhere in the world.
At the same time, strange things have been occurring at the French boarding school Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) now works at. Donning his usual oversized, white tunic, Maurice’s charming blue eyes and curly hair captivate Kate (Anna Popplewell), one of the school teachers and widowed mother to Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey).
In a later scene, Sophie is led by a group of her bullies at school into an abandoned chapel of the school. An array of colors span the mosaic in the center of the chapel, and Sophie is cautioned from looking away from the goat’s jarring crimson eyes that stand in the center.
After another eerie encounter with Valack, Sophie begins to take notice of the strange behaviors Maurice has been displaying. At the film’s climax, Sister Irene and Debra finally arrive at the boarding school, and relay the message of Maurice’s possession by Valak.
“The Nun II” spends more than half its screening time droning on to the climax, only for the climax to be marred by an unfulfilling dullness, whether this is through such moments as Maurice getting hit on the back of the head or Sophie simply kicking Maurice off the crumbing floor boards. If only stopping a demonic entity was that simple, everyone would pick up the next heaviest object off the ground and put a halt to evil.
On top of its disappointing and lackluster denouement, the sheer horror the goat was intended to instill in audiences was obstructed by poorly animated CGI. Characters’ screams more so embodied distilled shrieks, and during what should have been the most tense scene — Sister Irene and Kate digging up the buried eyes of St. Lucy — a random scene of a crow shrieking immediately after became comedic and unnecessary.
Although “The Nun II” does a good job weaving together its cinematic subjectivity with enticing storytelling early on, the action takes too long to build up, only to leave audience members discontented and desiring a bit more terror.