A decade on from the release of James Wan’s terrifying The Conjuring comes a sequel to The Nun spinoff which marks the ninth film in this particular horror universe that also includes the Annabelle films.
Directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) the film is light on jump scares, big on gothic atmosphere and unfortunately lacking in a satisfying narrative. For the most part, it’s a plodding horror-by-numbers that leads to a fantastic finale with some decent frights but it takes far too long to get there and everything is heavily signposted along the way.
The film begins in 1956 in France when a priest inexplicably sets on fire in front of an altar boy. Meanwhile, across the country, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga reprising her role) is hiding away in a convent following the events of the first film. When she takes Novice, Debra (Storm Reid) under her wing they spark up a friendship with the young nun following Irene when her expertise is called upon to investigate the reappearance of the demon nun Valak.
The rest of the film takes place in an all-girls boarding school where an Irish teacher (Anna Popplewell) and her daughter (who is being bullied by the local girls) are finding their place. There’s also a romantic thread to the long-winded and frankly tedious storyline that starts off an interesting note about mother-daughter relationships, racism, grief and faith but fails to tackle its themes in any compelling ways.
Reid’s character is underdeveloped, with her initial backstory completely forgotten by the end of the film. Farmiga is as ever on form with a sensitive turn and her deeply emotive facial expressions delivering the goods. There’s at least some attempt to conclude her mother-daughter afflictions even if it’s handled poorly. This entry into The Conjuring Universe isn’t even bad enough to be amusing and deserves to be thrown on a funeral pyre for its sins.
The Nun II will be in cinemas on 8 September 2023.