Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Nun II

Movie Name:
The Nun II
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, Katelyn Rose Downey, Suzanne Bertish, Bonnie Aarons, Leontine d'Oncieu, Anouk Darwin Homewood, Peter Hudson, Tamar Baruch, Natalia Safran, Maxime Elias-Menet, Pascal Aubert, Alexandra Gentil, Viviana Moin
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
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Synopsis and Review
Director Michael Chaves continues his dalliances in "The Conjuring" universe, following his previous directorial features, "The Curse of La Llorona" and "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It". This chapter focuses once again on the story of Sister Irene. Following the traumatic events of the first film, Sister Irene has gone back to a convent, only to be informed that the demon she thought she had vanquished, is still loose and making a killing throughout Europe. Through one of her visions, she realizes the demon has taken seize of her friend and savior Maurice. It has been sending him throughout different parts of Europe with the intent of capturing something that Irene  must uncover. While initially reluctant to tackle such a challenge, she decides to do so, this time around without Father Burke, as she's been informed he's passed away. Without anyone's approval, she does get the support of the rebellious Sister Debra, herself questioning her faith and even her place in the world. Maurice in the meantime, and without realizing it, has been guided by the demon and is currently working in an all-girls school in Aix-en-Provence, France. He has stricken a friendship with Schoolteacher Kate and her daughter Sophie, but the demon has its intentions set on retrieving something from that location, and violence and eerie things start occurring, with Sophie in particular witnessing some of them. Sister Irene and Sister Debra through their research realize what the intent of the demon is, and quickly realize they need to be at that school to help all its residents and expunge that creature from existence.
The most obvious thing to "The Nun II" is the level of polish that clearly has taken place when compared with the prior installment. Where Corin Hardy's film was somewhat generic in style and storytelling, Michael Chaves takes a somewhat different approach, creating an ominous environment that is aptly represented through the cinematography, production design, and even visual effects. The film which was shot in France, manages to have this claustrophobic aspect as Sister Irene goes about uncovering the purpose of the entity throughout the streets of Paris. Much like the other films in the series, there's a sleuthing aspect to it, with the Sisters in this case trying to uncover the purpose and intent of the entity. What continues to fail in the Nun series is the attention to who these characters actually are, including the lead Sister Irene, whom we briefly get a sense for where she comes from and some of the family trauma she lives with (and that impacts her investigation itself), although that description is all too brief. These characters are broadly described and thinly characterized, which makes that much more difficult to empathize with: they're fodder for whatever happens. The film has its strongest points in how Michael Chaves brings his point of view to the narrative, creating something gothic and menacing, though the film could have benefited a bit more of the influences from Guillermo Del Toro with his "El Espinazo del Diablo", by suggesting more and relying less on gruesomeness. The cast is competent, led by the talented Taissa Farmiga, who has good support from Storm Reid, Jonas Bloquet, Anna Popplewell and Katelyn Rose Downey. The production team is solidly comprised of Tristan Nyby's cinematography, Marco Beltrami's score, St├ęphane Cressend's production design and Agnes Beziers' costumes. It's a fairly watchable film, even if not the most memorable one in the series.