Wed | Nov 29, 2023

‘The Nun II’ a tepid fright fest

Published:Monday | September 11, 2023 | 12:08 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
‘The Nun II’ stars Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid.
‘The Nun II’ stars Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid.

It’s a good time to be a horror fan at the cinema. The next few weeks will be chock-full of frights. From the legacy sequel The Exorcist Believer to the other legacy in between-quel Saw X, to this week’s The Nun II, the latest installment of The Conjuring Universe.

If you haven’t been privy to the other eight films in the franchise fear not, The Nun II is fairly accessible, even if you haven’t seen its immediate predecessor. Whether it’s worth watching is another story altogether.

This story centres on Irene. Years after her first encounter with the demonic presence in the form of a nun, Irene has become a full-fledged sister of the cloth herself. She’s taken not just her vows, but a young woman under her wing. When the Vatican notices a stretch of grisly deaths that mirror the events of the previous film, Irene is called upon to face off against the ghoul she thwarted.

The movie is equal parts mystery, adventure and horror. Irene and her companion piece together the origin of the demon, like Sam and Dean Winchester poring over lore in a formula-laden episode of Supernatural. Sadly, the writing is just as exposition-heavy as a network TV show designed to catch you up after the commercial break. The characters fare no better. All traits that give them dimension get explained upfront, leading to an ending that’s predictable when it’s meant to be thrilling.

Of the thrills, there are plenty. The Nun II makes excellent use of shadows and presents its title figure as frighteningly as possible. Like so many horror films before it, it gets by on a distinctly gripping character design. One that’s inherently terrifying, yet impossible to look away from.

While there are more than a few scares, the film doesn’t exactly foster a creepy atmosphere. Many of its tension-filled moments are easy to see coming, and the inconsistency of its threats makes it hard to feel dread. One moment, the Nun is pulling characters into the air, lighting them aflame, the next, she’s kept at bay by a strongly guarded wooden door. Make it make sense.

Despite its flaws, The Nun II has a winning design and some compelling performances. I don’t know if I’d recommend it for a trip to cinemas, but with a group of your finest fright fiends, you should be right at home.

Rating: Catch It On Cable