When I watched the first film released five years ago, I was greatly disappointed. Two years ago, “The Conjuring 2” introduced us to Valak, who quickly became an icon with just one film. The film that followed should have crafted a backstory worthy of the icon’s name, but in my opinion, the resulting film was a significant failure. However, today, I learned that things can always get worse. After watching The Nun II, the first one somehow became more acceptable in my eyes. I believe there is no other horror icon in cinema history that has had such immense potential and been squandered so mercilessly. I cannot praise James Wan enough as a director, but when it comes to expanding the universe, we must accept one thing: The Conjuring universe is a massive failure.
Let’s briefly touch on the plot… Valak, believed to be banished to hell for eternity in Romania, hides within Maurice, moving from country to country in pursuit of what it seeks and systematically killing anyone in its path. As soon as the Vatican becomes aware of these events, they reach out to Irene (Taissa Farmiga), saying, “You’ve performed a miracle once before; we need another one,” and ask her to investigate the matter. Accompanied by Debra (Storm Reid), who never leaves her side, Irene sets out and finds herself in a boarding school in France.
For the first film, I specifically mentioned this: while the film correctly utilizes the genre’s characteristics, the story it constructs is ludicrous, and for an iconic terror machine like Valak, it is pretty simplistic. Especially considering the narrative’s connection to Jesus, it may seem like the right choice against a formidable creature like Valak, but unfortunately, the result was mediocre. At least the film was decent in terms of horror and occasionally delivered thrilling moments that made you jump. However, overall, it fell short of expectations.
“The Nun II,” on the other hand, is the complete opposite of the first film. The story is more appealing than the first, but the technical aspects are so poor that I lost all interest in the movie before it even reached the one-hour mark. Michael Chaves, who also directed “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” unfortunately delivers the worst film in the franchise. His approach to horror is so half-hearted that the film fails to be scary because the moments that should be frightening are poorly executed. Even worse, the film takes cheap shortcuts by directly copying the scenes that made Valak famous. If it was decided to stick with Valak’s established characteristics and do this repeatedly, then Valak not only falls short as a character in terms of story but also in character design.
Michael Chaves’ direction and the resulting editing not only diminish the impact of the moments that should be scary but also lead to the film’s inability to bring anything unique to the table, primarily resorting to a copy-paste approach. While there are a few visually striking scenes in the movie, the majority are simply rehashes of old material, failing to add any extra depth to the story—a significant issue. In “The Conjuring 2,” Valak, who occasionally stepped out of the frame, was seamlessly woven into the narrative because we knew that the characters were translating their visions onto canvas. However, in “The Nun II,” the magazine scene appears to have been designed solely to appear “cool,” but the last-minute destruction of the jump-scare element in the editing process renders what should have been a magnificent scene ineffective in terms of horror.
In contrast to the first film, I appreciated the story’s progression centered around Saint Lucy. Valak’s relentless pursuit of the relic and the killing spree makes for a compelling motivation for an iconic character. However, the manner in which the story’s climax unfolds feels cheap. Valak’s ability to instantly kill and incinerate the desired person while merely cornering the main character relies on clichés that have no place in a universe with such continuity and creativity. Typically, I am an advocate for a strong narrative, but when the story is poorly executed, especially from a technical standpoint, defending it becomes pretty challenging. Especially when it’s Michael Chaves at the helm, particularly considering he directed the two worst films in the franchise.
In summary… “The Nun II,” in stark contrast to the first film, boasts a more intriguing story, but it will be remembered as a poor film due to director Michael Chaves’ inept direction and the mutilation of the moments meant to be frightening in the editing process. I have not seen another horror film where jump-scare sequences were so poorly executed. As I mentioned before, James Wan becomes a genius behind the camera, but unfortunately, most of the films he produces fall short. However, Valak will be remembered as his greatest failure. Instead of transforming Valak into a megastar, it relegated the character to little more than a figurine in horror shops. From this point forward, no one can salvage this universe, I’m afraid.
Cast & Crew
director: Michael Chaves
writers: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing, Akela Cooper
starring: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell
USA | 2023 | 110 MINUTES |