NOTE: The following review will eventually be moved to a special 'Conjuring' page.
I have to be fair with this one and admit that I didn't fully do my homework on this before seeing it, aside from watching the first 'Nun' before dipping into it. Furthermore, my only real recollection of the Nun was her appearance in 'Conjuring 2', which is a movie I don't remember that well, as the last time I watched it was upon its release. So, needless to say, this is eventually getting a complete do-over, but I'll do my best with what I have to work with. First, I'll just cover the basics of the first 'Nun' movie.
Taking place in 1952, in Romania, the demon Nun now well-known as Valak (Bonnie Aarons) attacks a couple of normal nuns at Saint Cartha's monastery, and one of their bodies is discovered by Frenchie, aka Maurice (Jonas Bloquet), a villager who works for the nuns, transporting supplies. This leads the Vatican to send Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate the situation. They meet and befriend Frenchie, a bunch of crazy, scary shit goes down, and as these types of movies go, we believe evil to eventually be vanquished with the probability of it all coming back at some point or another.
Sure enough, here we have 'The Nun II' to add another bankable chapter to the 'Conjuring' series. And honestly, I'm kind of here for it. It's just my opinion, but I feel like the 'Conjuring' series has breathed new life into the supernatural horror genre. They feel edgy, their atmosphere is collectively dark and creepy, and though the jump scares can sometimes feel cheap, they are effective nonetheless. This one's no different, and I'd say that it's rather superior to its predecessor in almost every way. The same sort of thing happened with the 'Annabelle' movies as well, but again, that's a batch of reviews waiting to happen.
This one fast-forwards us a little bit from the previous film to 1956, where, like last time, two people are attacked by a supernatural force - and the resulting imagery is rather terrifying, so kudos to the movie for getting completely under my skin for that. Surviving her last encounter, Sister Irene, now a full-fledged Nun working in Italy, is once again called to action to investigate the circumstances of several mysterious deaths across Europe, seemingly tied to the very Demon Sister Irene thought she vanquished four years prior, Valak. Her previous experience has sort of led her to be the expert now.
A novice Nun named Sister Debrah (Storm Reid) tags along for the investigation despite questioning a lot of her faith and whether or not she buys into some concepts. Meanwhile, Irene's fellow 'Nun' survivor, Maurice, works at a boarding school in France. There, he meets and develops a sweet spot for teacher Kate (Anna Popplewell) and her daughter, Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey). Eventually, their paths meet again as the Valak attacks focus on a path leading to the same boarding school Maurice works for. However, The question is, how did Valak return, and what is she after?
I think it's somewhat safe to say that these movies have a predictability, at least to some degree. I'd even say that for this one, a point or two of the coincidences feel just a little too easy. But it does still add some pretty cool stuff to the lore of this series, and when it comes down to it, I come to a movie like this to get scared, and I have to say that, to some degree, it was effective. It's much more effective than its predecessor, pushing this chapter ahead of it. A handful of children are involved in this as well, which adds to the dread of it all, especially with scenes that have one wondering if the kid is gonna "get it".
All in all, I'd say that this makes for a pretty great early Halloween treat for the year, at least if you're already into this series. I might argue that it makes for one of the creepier chapters, but please note that I'm not sure I would consider it the top of the 'Conjuring' movie list of recommendations. It's a movie you leave feeling somewhat uneasy due to its dark imagery, setting and overall atmosphere. I have to credit it for the genuine scares, and I admit I had a lot of fun with it. It has its fair share of predictability and tropes, but if you've come to the movie just for a good scare, it's a solid watch!