Review and summary of the film The Nun II (2023)

As the titular nun of the series, Valak is at the heart of the film’s gruesome endeavors. And yet, “The Nun II” practices accidental exposure therapy, showing its monster at every turn, almost immediately desensitizing us to its presence. There’s a reason bogeymen and ghosts are feared in the shadows; their mystery breeds fear. Valak (played again by Bonnie Aarons) is spotlighted at every turn, from traditional hero shots to terrible CGI renditions that occur with tiring frequency. It becomes an expected visit rather than an intentional thrill, and what is meant to surprise only elicits a sigh.

There’s a general lack of thoughtfulness in “The Nun II” when it comes to scares, and Chaves is fiercely loyal to oversaturated tropes. The film totally neglects creativity and, in turn, lacks effective fear. With slow pans and loud bangs, Chaves’ film signals to its viewers at every moment, telling us to be afraid rather than organically inspiring it. It reads more like a series of vignettes following a strict quota of scares, with narrative dexterity low on the priority list.

Farmiga is the best part of the movie, with her performance as Irene showing nuance and development. Where Irene was shy in the first film, she now knows her power, and Farmiga brings a certain enthusiasm to the film even as she encounters threats and traumatic memories at every turn. Farmiga has chemistry with Reid but carries most of the weight as Reid functions more as a sidekick than an equal power. Yet Farmiga’s light is less of a beacon than a flickering bulb, doing its best to illuminate a film without the wiring to support it.

Jonas Bloquet resumes his role of Maurice, now a handyman at the girls’ boarding school. His budding romance with a teacher there and his protectiveness of her daughter, whom the older girls bully, inject emotion into the narrative and pose stakes. However, much of its inclusion becomes just as cyclical as the rest of the film. Bloquet gives a good interpretation but is entrusted with a panicked narrative arc that does not arouse much interest.

“The Nun II” just isn’t constructed with the sharpness or level of surprise conducive to a blockbuster horror film. It floods its execution with oversaturation of every trick in the book. While returning artists Farmiga and Bloquet give what they can, their emotional efforts are betrayed by a completely disappointing script.

In the cinema now.

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