Discover more from Deep Cuts
'The Nun II' & other horrors
Michael Chaves brings visual intrigue to an otherwise entirely bereft occult horror-whoddunit that, like recent 'Conjuring' outings, rests entirely on the back of a talented Farmiga sister.
THE NASCENT YEARS of The Conjuring franchise told horror stories loosely based on real-life supernatural events. Though primarily centered around the outings of paranormal investigators called the Warrens (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the films became better known for the spate of fiendish ghouls and demonic entities they prominently feature. Chief among them is a demon named Valak, a creation liberally altered for the films, taking the appearance of a possessed nun — habit and all.
Based on the scant number of grimoires that make mention of said demon, the franchise turned Valak into the instantly recognizable horror villain that it is, spawning a film series of its own. Directed by Michael Chaves, The Nun II is a sophomore entry to the series, and it takes, as Chaves had in his previous Conjuring films (2021’s The Devil Made Me Do It), a few liberties to help cast itself in a different light, quite literally.
For one, it’s actually well-lensed and lends the series some unique visual interest: a mix of starkly contrasting hues that mimic the stained glass windows adorning the churches and abbeys of ‘40s Tarascon, France. For another, the screenplay actively tries to detach it from the realism that previous Conjuring films laboriously attempt to ground themselves in. To illustrate what I mean more clearly, picture the cold open scene and how it suspends a victim midair and lights him afire to a mere char. It’s flashy. It’s Alejandro-Gaga. Teetering camp.
Narratively, though, it’s still quite bereft. The boilerplate occult horror-mystery template undermines the intensity of Taissa Farmiga playing Sister Irene, a widely better-equipped, headstrong, and wryly humorous woman of the habit who feels like she’d make a fine duo with Gerard Butler’s eponymous The Pope Exorcist. Unlike that film, though, Farmiga’s Sister Irene doesn’t get to have her full-fledged heroine moment in The Nun II, not with a version of the demon that — somehow, in some way — feels nerfed to the unholy ground.
📧 Subscribe for free to receive new posts and get weekly horror reviews.
Watch it in theaters? A handful of moments are visually interesting, but other than those, you wouldn’t miss much if you watched it on the streamers. ❌
ABOUT THE FILM
💒 The Nun II
dir. Michael Chaves | Horror, Thriller | 🇺🇸
Four years after the events at the Abbey of St. Carta, Sister Irene returns once again and comes face to face with the demonic force Valak, the Nun.
Other horrors I've watched this week:
Here are the rest of my horror viewings this week. For real-time reviews and quick takeaways, follow my Letterboxd 🟠🔵🟢!
🛳 The Last Voyage of the Demeter
dir. André Øvredal | Horror | 🇺🇸
André Øvredal’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter is partly based on a pocket story in Bram Stoker’s Dracula that chronicles the days leading to the wreckage of the eponymous vessel chartered for England. As things go in stories like that of Demeter, things go awry when the crew realizes that they have a vicious creature on board. It’s O.K., boasting some thrilling moments, but those and other compelling bits are so few and far between; I’m not sure if it merits a wholehearted reco.
dir. Just Philippot | Horror, Fantasy, Short | 🇫🇷 🇧🇪
An acid rain rumbles over a scenic French countryside. That’s it. That’s the short film. Just Philippot’s Acide is one of those films predicated entirely on the filmmakers’ deft execution — it’s perfect. A feature-length expansion of the story premiered at Cannes earlier this year to rave reviews. I look forward to seeing it.
📺 The Ring
dir. Gore Verbinski | Horror | 🇺🇸
Gore Verbinski’s The Ring is among the few J-horror remakes that translate perfectly for Western audiences: a cold, terrifying ghost story straddled on the backs of a creepypasta precursor (read: urban legends, remember those?). Verbinski’s take follows the story beat for beat and coats the film with some added texture. Naomi Watts, per ush, is amazing as a foul-mouthed journalist trying to uncover the real score about a mysterious snuff tape.
dir. Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter | Horror | 🇺🇸
More amusing than scary, Deadstream is anchored wholly on the obnoxious vlogger-influencer at its center. More provocative (Rob Zombie’s Dashcam) or more nuanced (Eugene Kotlyarenko’s Frenzy) examples exist, but there’s a unique charm to Joseph and Vanessa Winter’s film that makes it worth watching.
What to watch this week
A list of noteworthy horror releases coming to theaters, VOD, and streaming.
🔍 A Haunting in Venice opens in theaters this week.
Field Notes From Hell is Deep Cuts’ weekly email digest. Dispatches go out every weekend, with handpicked horror news, capsule reviews, and outlook on upcoming titles you can watch.