Several priests have been violently murdered in Europe and Sister Irene is forced once more to revisit her demons and indeed face the Devil in Tarascon, France.
Directed by Michael Chaves of ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Annabelle’ films and written by Akela Cooper of the brilliant ‘M3GAn’, we are given the sequel to the successful first outing of ‘The Nun’ that produced a very healthy box office of over $365m. Although now the ninth outing within ‘The Conjuring’ series, are we falling into familiar territory that leaves a sense of wanting something darker and more diverse?
Set in 1950’s Tarascon, France, four years after the first film, Sister Irene, played by Taissa Farmiga (The Nun) must face her mental darkness once more to investigate why priests are being violently murdered in churches throughout Europe. With the latest murder taking place at a former monastery (now boarding school) where evil seems to be spreading like the plague. The mission from her mission?… to put herself in danger once more and defeat the evil that seems to surround the holy order as it searches for its last missing body part of St Lucy.
The film introduces Anna Popplewell into the franchise as Kate, (Chronicles of Narnia) a boarding school teacher, and Katelyn Rose Downey as her student/daughter Sophie. Bullied by Simone Léontine d’Oncieu, the girls find themselves in forbidden parts of the old building, only to stumble upon the heart of the darkness that is later revealed to be the missing part of the angel turned demon of St. Lucy.
The cinematography is beautiful and shot entirely on location at an abandoned convent in Couvent des Prêcheurs. Here we are in familiar territory with returning actors Bonnie Aarons once more as Valak, the Demon Nun – whose look has been strangely likened to Marilyn Manson – and Jonas Bloquet as Maurice as the surrogate protector of Sophie, the filmmakers are looking to expand on a format that works when done well and feels tired when not.
Director Michael Chaves has created a beautiful looking film that is at many times highly atmospheric. Blurring the lines well between what is real and not real, especially with Sister Irene and the illusions in her mind of her troubling past encounters. The Demon Nun’s reveal in previous films seems to have creatively left Chaves nowhere to go, apart from a tendency for overexposure of the image and indeed the frequency of the reveals. Taking the magic away from what should be the uncertainty of the darkness and unknown. The magazine stand scene is a standout moment but it was unfortunately used in the trailer, taking away a potential moment of cinematic genius and shock.
When the first films in a franchise exist as a standalone entity, or part of a limited series; they can be a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, as good as the actors are in this film, when the novelty concept wears off it leaves one wanting greater risks and more intelligent storytelling to keep it alive. With the ‘The Conjuring’ series so far grossing around £2billion, there is an audience for the filmmakers to build a universe on, and with low marketing budgets required for this genre we will surely see this run and run. On the flip side, watching a good horror film with an audience provides a thrill that would be absent when left to watch the same thing alone.
Author: Piers, Maidstone Store