The plot of The Nun, which was released back in 2018, was rather straightforward, if you’re being kind, or undercooked, if you’re being more critical. It boils down to a priest and a nun investigating a haunted abbey with a delivery-boy, with the backstories of the trio only lightly touched upon. By contrast, The Nun II is positively stuffed with plot and subplots, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you can do it right.
The aforementioned delivery-boy is Maurice Theriault (Jonas Bloquet) aka Frenchie. At the end of the first movie, he ended up possessed by Valak the Demon Nun (Bonnie Aarons). When this sequel picks up, the two of them have been moving across Europe, with Valak using Frenchie to murder clergy members for reasons that are revealed later. Ultimately, Frenchie ends up at a French boarding school with a violent and spooky past, even without a demon. While at the school, Frenchie becomes a groundskeeper and befriends Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey), a young girl who’s being bullied at the school. He also develops a mutual romantic attraction with Kate (Anna Popplewell), Sophie’s mother.
Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), the non-demon nun from the first movie, returns to stop Valak once again and is assisted by Sister Debra (Storm Reid). While you might have thought the lack of marketing around a rising star like Reid might have been due to her having a plot sensitive role, it’s actually because she has a pretty minor part in the grand scheme of things. Sister Debra fulfills the role of Sister Irene’s sidekick, though she does get a subplot about struggling with her faith after a racial attack claimed the life of her mother.
Valak and the Connection Between Two Farmigas
Eventually it’s revealed that Valak isn’t murdering these clergy members just for the fun of it. It’s murdering them because they’re the descendants of Saint Lucy, patron saint of the blind, whose eyes have become a powerful religious artifact. Valak’s goal in the film is, in fact, to collect the eyes for reasons that are a little unclear.
The Nun II doesn’t dwell on it too much, but there’s some speculation about the demon wanting to regain the divine power it had when it was still an angel, despite the fact that Valak seems pretty powerful even without the eyes. It’s managed to escape how many exorcisms at this point? Nor does it do anything that impressive once it finally gets the eyes. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Valak wants a MacGuffin — and a gross one at that — because it’s the MacGuffin. It’s time to move on.
Though it’s never directly said out loud, the implication in the film is that Sister Irene is a descendant of Saint Lucy, along with Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), which is why they’re both psychic. Most audience members were probably expecting a revelation like that, because it’s very hard to ignore that Taissa and Vera Farmiga are related. In the world of fiction, it’s unlikely to have two characters look that much alike and not have any connection.
The Nun II Is… Fine
The first two acts are very ‘been there, done that.’ Oh, look, it’s five minutes of ambient noise followed by a jump scare, or something strange is hiding in the corner of the screen. The Conjuring Universe is starting to become complacent in the same way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become complacent. Of course, that’s really hard to avoid when you’re nine installments in to any franchise.
Of course, the really important part of any movie is the end. As Robert McKee (Brian Cox) says in Adaptation, so long as you nail the last act, the audience can forgive a lot of the faults that they might have with the first two. In that regard, we can’t deny that the finale to The Nun II is rather hair-raising. All the different parts of the movie come together really nicely. Unfortunately, the climax might save The Nun II from being a bad movie, but it doesn’t save the film from being little more than fine.
We applaud The Nun II for wanting to tell more of a story, with a good climax, and with more likable characters and performances than the original film, but this is hardly among the best in the series. You can say The Nun II is better than The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the previous film in the franchise and one that was also directed by Michael Chaves. Unfortunately, being better than what is hands down the worst film in The Conjuring trilogy, soon to be quadrilogy, isn’t much of an accomplishment.
The Nun II is now in theaters.