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The Nun II ★★★



Director: Michael Chavas

Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons, Storm Reid, Jonas Bloquet, Anna Popplewell & Katelyn Rose Downey

Release Date: 8th September 2023 (UK)

Taking place four years after the events of the first instalment of The Nun (2017) in 1956, the familiar faces of Sister Irene and Maurice, who survived their malevolent encounter with the Demon Nun named ‘Valak’, return to face an insidious evil once again in the setting of a girls boarding school in France. At the helm of this kinetic, side-splitting entry into The Conjuring Universe is Michael Chavas, director of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, who is accompanied by Akela Cooper, writer of James Wan’s frenzied masterwork Malignant, who injects a sense of disequilibrium and frenzy into The Nun II’s wildly discombobulated script. This works simultaneously in favour of and against The Nun II’s gothic supernatural on-screen presentation.

Sister Irene (Farmiga) is now serving at a convent in Italy with Sister Debra (Reid), where the horrors of her past blight her. These horrors take form in rapid cutting memory flashbacks of the events in Romania four years prior and when she was a child. From the get-go, The Nun II already provides its audience with an emotional drive and attachment to Irene that the first film was incapable of. Further west, hokey wisecracker Maurice (Bloquet) now serves as a handyman for a girl’s boarding school in France. He is closely attached to Kate (Popplewell) and her daughter Sophie (Downey), who is regularly bullied by the girls in her class. However, without his knowing, after saving Sister Irene four years ago, the evil entity has been slowly possessing his being and causing him to commit horrifically violent murders all around Europe.

The violence in The Nun II is playful and yet easily some of the most brutal we have seen in any entrance into The Conjuring Universe. Chavas uses this violence to express his vivid formal sensibilities as a genre director, guiding the audience to many exciting and unique match-cutting jump scares and some dynamic photography that stirs the regular eek into its audience.

The Nun II surpasses its predecessor in almost all elements in its attention and knowledge of horror as a genre and how it can make its audience feel. Chavas, who maybe did not even quite reach the benchmark with The Devil Made Me Do It, easily exceeds his potential as a director with a well-constructed narrative that still dares to delve into the experimental whilst retaining all the familiar tropes that consume the films of The Conjuring Universe.

Clocking in at roughly 110 minutes, The Nun II is the cold, breathless, eye-wincing sequel that we, as an audience, did not know we needed. With the most emotional catharsis of any film in The Conjuring Universe, The Nun II is so much fun. It refuses to take itself too seriously and, therefore, bathes in its ludicrousness. A genuinely insane final act leaves us in awe of the pedestal and legacy that James Wan has left in horror. Having a film like this back for its bizarre vision is so wonderful.

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