Directed by Michael Chaves (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), The Nun II stars Taissa Farmiga (The Final Girls), Jonas Bloquet (Elle), Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time), Anna Popplewell (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Bonnie Aarons (The Conjuring 2), Katelyn Rose Downey (The Princess), and Suzanne Bertish (Benediction).

A malevolent evil is spreading its boney demonic fingers across France in 1956. After a priest is violently murdered, Sister Irene (Farmiga) is called upon to investigate the incident as she is the only surviving member of the exorcist duo from the event at Saint Cartha's monastery. She soon finds herself face-to-face with Valak (the demon nun), who has seemingly taken a boarding school hostage… but why? Can Sister Irene vanquish Valak for good? Past and present, and bloodlines intersect in this sequel.

The film doesn’t take long to get going. The opening scenes do a great job grabbing the audience by the throat. These characters are sympathetic and easy to root for. Since it is a cold open, the audience is already anticipating something horrible to happen. It is a perfect combination that sets the mood and starts the movie off on the right foot.
Taissa Farmiga does a wonderful job reprising her role as Sister Irene. Her acting is authentic and earnest. With her soulful eyes, she reveals a hint of her tragic background with a splash of “I’ve seen some stuff…you can’t even imagine.” Equally as tragic is Jonas Bloquet’s portrayal of Maurice/Frenchie, who is kind but is also suffering from some “baggage” that will not let him live a quiet, peaceful life. Bloquet does a commendable job with this complex role, which could have easily been over or under-performed. Sister Debra (played by Storm Reid) feels underutilized as a character. The writers did well by building up Debra’s backstory, but her narrative feels thin throughout the meat of the film.

There are definitely some plot holes throughout the story. However, the pacing is so well done that these problems hardly register while the audience is in their seats. It isn’t until after they leave the theater (and analyze what they just witnessed) that the glaring inconsistencies rear their ugly heads. The least of this is the idea that Valak has little to no motivation. One is hinted, but never solidified; so, the villain’s end goal is merely an assumption. What will happen if Valak gets the relic? What will happen if Valak’s end goal is achieved? Many of the deaths feel senseless and pointless. How did Valak find the boarding school in the first place?

In addition, the frights rely mostly on jump scares. Although Chaves does try to go for an atmospheric dread, it falls flat when the audience isn’t steeped in the environment long enough to feel immersed in the moody backdrop.
For those who have not seen the first movie, The Nun II summarizes the events well without overdoing it. The writing is tight, and all of the smoking guns and foreshadowed plotlines are adequate. However, the end does feel a little rushed and because of this, it isn’t as satisfying.

The Nun II falls within the Conjuring Universe which also includes films in the Conjuring series, the Annabelle series, and The Curse of La Llorona. Each of them weave their storylines in with the foundational series, which makes for an interesting experience for horror fans.

Fans of the first Nun film and the movies within the Conjuring Universe will enjoy the return of their favorite characters and the Easter eggs from the other films. While the theater experience enhances the jump scares, it isn’t necessary. Although, seeing Bonnie Aarons’ Valek up close and personal on the big screen will surely be an image etched in the minds of theatergoers.