The Nun II (2023)

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The Nun II

The demon in Hollywood is like a pest in your home: you think you’ve gotten rid of it, and a moment later it’s roaming around the attic. In the ninth film from the “The Conjuring” universe, and a sequel to the unappreciated (though box office triumphant) “The Nun“, a familiar pest has razor-sharp teeth and yellow eyes, likes to turn over crucifixes and trample on human souls. That’s it for the miracles – I didn’t notice the magic of cinema during the screening.

When in 1956, four years after his supposed expulsion from hell, the demon Valak (Bonnie Aarons) blazes a bloody trail through the temples of Eastern Europe, the Vatican reaches for its secret weapon. It is sister Irena (Taissa Farmiga). She may not be old, but her simple life, belief in miracles and insight into the underside of reality make her a worthy opponent for the unclean force dressed in a habit. People of flesh and blood will stand between the saint and the devil: the resolute novice Debra (Storm Reid), experiencing a crisis of faith, the “FrenchmanMaurice (Jonas Bloquet) suffering from possession, Kate (Anna Popplewell), a teacher from a girls’ boarding school in Provence, whom he is courting her, and her charming daughter Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey), whom Maurice surrounds with fatherly care. They will all turn out to be puppets in the hands of those stronger than themselves. There is no forgiveness: So Irena has to roll up her sleeves again, type out prayer formulas and reach into the treasury of relics.

What is it? A story about a crisis of faith? Criticism of the Church washing its hands and using its sheep? Without exaggeration. Anyone who watched “The Nun” from five years ago knows that the core of “The Exorcist” turns out to be just a core without any content. We are watching nothing more or less than a superhero scare, plastered with Christian iconography that has been watered down by pop culture. When it turns out that a powerful artifact that could be targeted by Indiana Jones (the eyes of St. Lucy) may end up in the clawed hands of a demon, our heroine will turn from a student nun into a master of metaphysical initiation and save several stray souls in the process. The pattern we know and like was unfortunately filled with plot cotton. The bloody prologue does not herald a several-dozen-minute exposition divided into two threads, and the clumsily woven in, completely devoid of context, staging solutions long outdated by the genre are merely staffage for a not very engaging story.

What’s worse, the sluggish pace highlights flaws that we would otherwise turn a blind eye to (Oh, Saint Lucy, patron saint of the blind!). Exploring haunted locations is like checking off genre chores; only rarely does it turn into wild fun (stay away from altar boys with a censer!). For example, a ball kicked into the darkness will immediately return, a shadow will take on a physical shape, a sculpture covered with a sheet will turn out to be a ghost, clawed hands will jump out of a hole in the wall, and more than one rat will stomp around the attic. Michael Chaves, who directs the whole thing, is in love with jump scares, he likes to mute the speakers beforehand, as if he understood scares as constantly waking us up from a nap. In the described, among others, by Akela Cooper (“M3GAN”) universe, demons travel between countries and dimensions, but you can hide from them behind doors. Moreover, they appear so often that the terror disappears. The little ones are indeed thrown against the walls, but their bones seem to be made of steel; physical damage typical of horror turns out to be illusory; when the soul is healed, the body is also healed.

The Nun II” is the work of a sloth and a routineist who, instead of digging into our heads to sow the horror of guesses, problematizing human fear, implanting it in the fabric of everyday life or, on the other hand, completely letting our imagination run wild, prefers to prey on biological reactions. He’ll scream here, growl there, and what’s the point if we’ll soon be snoring again?

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