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Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

‘The Nun II’: A sequel that might, hopefully, maybe could haunt your nightmares

Illustration: Molly Boyke

A bottle of wine explodes for seemingly no reason in a church in Tarascon, France—and it only gets more horrifying from there. Little can stop a cryptic demonic force from reaching its goal in “The Nun II.” 

Similar to its prequel in the “Conjuring” franchise, “The Nun II” sets a demon as the solitary antagonist in a film rife with Catholic characters and imagery.

The villain in the movie is a demon named Valak, who displays itself in many forms, including its most iconic nun attire. In the film, Valak is challenged by Sister Irene, the main protagonist and a returning character in the franchise. She displays mysterious biblical powers and attempts to harness her abilities to stop the demon.

Sister Irene also gets help from another member of her convent, Sister Debra—whose bond with Sister Irene propels female friendship as a core theme throughout the film. They became friends in their convent, and when the church called upon Sister Irene to fight Valak again, Sister Debra was instantly concerned and insisted on coming along. She said Irene couldn’t fight Valak without her—and she was right. This was a unique element to include in a horror movie, which I felt I could connect to.

There are consistent moments in which the audience sees how close their bond is and how often they support one another. It brings a unique moral fiber to the plot and establishes an effective contrast between the pair and the demon. Their dynamic stands out within the story and helps drive the plot.

The film possesses an intriguing concept, but I thought it left a bit to be desired. The dialogue felt trite, and the plot was questionable. The “horror” elements held limited substance and hardly seemed effectively fear-inducing—barring the occasional (cheap) jumpscare. 

The movie is suspenseful without being overly crass and disturbing, perfect for a boisterous crowd. Despite this, the film has a deliberate intensity, and the jumpscares punctuate the story.

Along with Sister Irene and the demon, another integral character from the first movie was Maurice, also known as Frenchie. His character arc is interesting—he saved Sister Irene in the first film by inhaling the demon, subsequently becoming possessed himself, and used as an agent of evil.

The landscape and lighting style of the film are distinct, and the movie’s concept is fleshed out enough to make sense. Despite my criticisms, the film earns itself its spot in the horror movie canon.

The writers chose to execute this sequel by using the Bible story of Saint Lucy, a martyr turned beloved Christian mythical figure. In some versions of the story, Saint Lucy gets her eyes taken from her due to violent martyrdom. The demon is looking to find Lucy’s eyes.

The film claims two things: that Saint Lucy’s eyes hold an insurmountable power that can be weaponized, and that Sister Irene’s family tree traces back to Saint Lucy. This ancestry helps Irene defeat the demon.

Though the audience may have been laughing at the jump scares, there were some surprised murmurs as the plot came together via Saint Lucy’s story. I thought it worked reasonably well in tying everything together.

The framing device of the Saint Lucy biblical story also leads the audience to a new setting: a boarding school.

The boarding school is where watchers get to meet more central characters: Kate, a teacher, and Sophie, her daughter, who is a student. These characters bring a new sort of humanity to the story, and their connection to Maurice adds a critical layer to the plot. They love him—there are romantic implications between Kate and Maurice, and Sophie views him as a friend and role model.

The boarding school is where the climax of the movie happens, as it’s the demon’s ultimate destination. Valak is looking for the eyes of Saint Lucy, which is also where Kate met and grew to fall in love with Maurice. The demon possesses Maurice to get to this point, where it can be in close proximity to the eyes.

Not only does the demon’s resurgence pose a mass threat, but it also breaks apart the possibility of Kate, Maurice, and Sophie ever becoming a family. The bond between these characters is wholesome and pure, a sharp contrast with the demon’s identity and motives. This contrast is also shown within Maurice’s character, as his demon-possessed actions juxtapose his true, kind personality displayed throughout the film.

The characters could have been improved by having traits beyond the film’s basic plot, as depth to them would add an interesting layer to the movie. Ultimately, I feel as if the film got its point across, but there is a lack of profundity both in the characters and thematically, and the dialogue is stilted and cliche.

“The Nun II” could be a decent movie to watch with friends on Halloween night. There is enough there for a spooky vibe and exciting story, but there is still room to joke around as the film is to-the-point and not overly complex.

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About the Contributor
Sasha Zirin, Assistant Living Arts Editor
Sasha Zirin, they/them, is a sophomore hailing from the Washington, D.C. metro area, majoring in journalism. They hold the role of Assistant Living Arts Editor and derive immense satisfaction from writing across the spectrum of news and the living arts. Sasha is an active contributor to Emerson's arts publication, EM Magazine, and maintains a robust affiliation with the Emerson Poetry Project. During their free moments, they indulge in their love for reading, drawing, knitting, and watching movies.

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