At the start of the summer, the Insidious franchise made big waves at the box office with another sequel, Insidious: The Red Door. Over two years have passed since The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It brought the Warrens back for another entry to the Conjuring universe. Apparently, Ed and Lorraine Warren will be returning in a yet-to-be-scheduled sequel, The Conjuring: Last Rites. In the meantime, the franchise’s main demonic antagonist, Valak, returns for their own direct sequel, The Nun 2. To date, critics have responded a little more favorably to the sequel as compared to The Nun.
Four years have passed since Sister Irene thought she vanquished the demon, Valak. But bizarre murders targeting church officials are spreading across continental Europe. Now Vatican officials, believing the demon remains loose, request that Sister Irene once again battle the unholy evil. This time her investigation takes her to a boarding school for young girls where an ancient religious relic sought after by the demon may be buried.
The Nun 2 Boasts More Scares, Intensity, and Urgency Than the Original
If the first Annabelle movie lingers at the bottom of the franchise, The Nun often gets cited as one of the weakest Conjuring Universe entries alongside The Curse of La Llorona. Whether that’s a fair assessment or not, there’s good news for fans of the series – The Nun 2 is a better movie. Sitting behind the camera this time around, Michael Chaves takes over directing duties. And he’s improved everything from the scares to the pacing to the overall intensity level. Straight out of the gate, Chaves scores with an opening scene that mixes some genuine tension with a shocking death. In fact, The Nun 2 is often a more violent movie than just about anything else in the franchise. Though it’s certainly still a popcorn horror movie, the sequel occasionally feels a little edgier than what we’ve seen in the past.
Much of the supernatural thriller finds the volume cranked to a maximum level.
Over the next hour and 50 minutes, Chaves delivers several decent jolts. Similar to its predecessor, The Nun 2 favors jump scares accompanied by loud sounds. Much of the supernatural thriller finds the volume cranked to a maximum level. However, Chaves knows how to use the genuinely creepy image of Valak to great effect. When he’s not doling out a frenetic finale, the filmmaker plays with shadows and the corners of the screen to slowly reveal glimpses of the demon. There’s also a fun bit using a stained glass window as well as a terrifying new demonic addition in the form of a barely-seen goat-like monstrosity. Composer Marco Beltrami earns a major assist with a fantastic musical score.
The Nun 2 Recycles the Same Mistakes in Storytelling Even As It Improves on What Came Before
If The Nun 2 is an improvement over the original in just about every way, it still remarkably manages to repeat the same major mistakes. There’s plenty of gaps in logic and storytelling that plague the sequel beneath the surface. For at least a third of the movie, there’s some genuine mystery that drives the scares. Yet as Chaves and the three writers credited for the screenplay reveal more of their hand questions abound. Whether Valak actually knows where this suddenly important religious relic is hidden never gets addressed. As good as Storm Reid (The Invisible Man) is in her role, she along with several other characters feel unnecessarily tacked on to the sequel. Moreover, there’s an awful lot of plot convolutions necessary to get the story from Point A to Point B.
If The Nun 2 is an improvement over the original in just about every way, it still remarkably manages to repeat the same major mistakes.
Arguably, the most glaring problems are what feels like a lot of contrived plot devices and some possible retconning. This time around The Nun 2 throws in a lot of religious mythology around the ‘eyes of Saint Lucy’ and teases new connections between Sister Irene and Lorraine Warren. In addition, the sequel adds more backstory for Sister Irene that drives the finale with maybe just a bit of eyerolling. It’s all just a bit formulaic for anyone familiar with horror movies. Some of the connections drawn to other movies in The Conjuring Universe are subtle and potentially interesting. Nevertheless, the conclusion introduces a huge potential plot hole. If you stick around during the end credits, there is a scene lifted from The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. Yet it does little other than reminding you the Warrens have an upcoming sequel.
The Nun 2 Mostly Improves on Its Predecessor As It Delivers Decent Scares
Overall, The Nun 2 improves on its predecessor while somehow repeating all of the same mistakes. It’s definitely a scarier movie, and more consistently scary, and more shockingly violent in some scenes. But like the first movie Chaves too often relies on loud sounds and sudden jolts in place of patient atmosphere and tension. Plot holes and gaps in narrative logic also still abound. But for at least a third of its runtime, there’s an interesting mystery driving the scares. Maybe it’s not essential viewing – a post-credits scene adds little interesting – in The Conjuring Universe, but The Nun 2 still makes for decent popcorn horror.