The Nun II: A Sequel of No Improvement (Blu-ray)
Five years ago, an attempt was made to further expand "The Conjuring" universe of films with "The Nun," which sought to explore the origin of the demon Valak from "The Conjuring 2." While the film had an intriguing idea, as well as plenty of mood & atmosphere to spare, it sadly turned out to be little more than a series of dull jump scares that left no impact in the end. However, this didn't stop the film from being a runaway success as the box office, leading us right up to the inevitable "The Nun II." Will a sequel be able to succeed where the original failed, or is it merely doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?
Picking up four years after the first film, we find Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) now living in a convent in Italy, while Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) now works as a handyman at a girls' school in France. Sister Irene is summoned by a Cardinal, who informs her of a series of deaths that are believed to be the work of Valak, the demon she had supposedly defeated before. Tasked with attempting to stop Valak once again, she and Sister Debra (Storm Reid) travel to France to begin their investigation. Meanwhile, strange happenings begin to occur at the girls' school revolving around Maurice, who doesn't seem to be quite himself sometimes. The sisters soon find themselves racing against the clock to discover Valak's true purpose and to put a stop to them once and for all.
As mentioned, the original film set out with a compelling idea at its core, which could've led to some rather interesting places if the writer had been up to the task of delivering a worthwhile story. Sadly, despite its great production design and a fine performance from Oscar nominee Demian Bichir, the film fell rather flat in the attempt. A sequel, while not a particularly good idea, would at least have the opportunity to correct past mistakes by putting together a more engaging story and going further with its horror than simple, predictable jump scares. After all, "The Conjuring 2" had somehow managed to improve upon pretty much every element of its overrated predecessor, so why couldn't the same happen here?
Unfortunately, the attempt has fallen far short once again, for "The Nun II" has even less of a substantial story this time around, lazily focusing on Valak's attempt to get a powerful relic, and once more inundates the audience with nothing but cheap, lazy jump scares (the typical "Boo!" with a sharp musical stinger). I suppose the rationale was, if the original, with all of its flaws, made a bundle of cash, why bother to fix anything when it comes to doing a sequel? Why risk improving anything and alienating audiences who actually want another horror outing that's remarkably simplistic?
Whatever the reasoning, "The Nun II" is one of those horror flicks you'll forget about approximately five minutes after it's over, if not sooner. There's even less here that stands out than in the last film, where at least you had a fair amount of gravitas from Demian Bichir and an abundance of atmosphere. Here we have a half-baked story and some rather ineffective scares/horror elements that turn it into a mostly plodding experience that stretches on for nearly two hours. But even with its plethora of issues, don't be surprised if we soon find ourselves facing yet another sequel given its explosive box office performance. One can only imagine how they would even follow this up, but given the quality of the first two films, you can bet that they're not going to spend too much time putting too much thought into it.
"The Nun II" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. Like its predecessor, this is a very dark film for much of its runtime, but the picture remains perfectly sharp & clear throughout. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio track is fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music (including stingers) in excellent quality. Overall, Warner Bros. has done a fine job in both areas for the film's physical release.
The Nun II: Demon in Paradise (5 Minutes): A brief look behind the scenes of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.
Handcrafted Nightmares (7 Minutes): Another look behind the scenes, focusing on elements that were built/created for the film.
"The Nun II" is a rather disappointing follow-up to its predecessor, one that doesn't even attempt to fix its more problematic elements. Instead, it settles for a half-baked story and the same old never-ending series of cheap, lazy, and ineffective jump scares, ultimately making this sequel an even more forgettable horror outing than the original.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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