Idon’t know if one should buy The Nun II’s tagline about the film having “the greatest evil in The Conjuring universe.” It includes one or two effective jump scares and Valak, the demon who masquerades as a nun is a fine, if rudimentary, menace.

Defying the will of God and gravity with its killings and levitation spells, Valak gets some backstory in an oh-I-get-it-now moment when Sister Irene (Tessa Farmiga), the returning heroine, learns about the demon’s quest to obtain a sacred, powerful relic that connects to a series of killings across Europe.

Irene and a non-believing young nun, Sister Debra (Storm Reid), arrive at a boarding school in France where Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) — also a returning character — works, and where a young girl called Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey) is bullied by snobby, mean girls in her class.

As the eighth title in TheConjuring series of movies, the horror has been exorcised by now. The production and lighting design are thick with ominous atmosphere and the screenplay, with its bare minimum story, is sleek.

There is not much to horrify in The Nun II but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a watch

Michael Chaves, who debuted as a director with The Curse of La Llorona and followed through with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, knows the nuts and bolts of The Conjuring movies. The Nun II gives him his third film in the franchise (La Llorna was a distant cousin whose story resides in the series). His work is perfunctory and one can sit through without fuss, unfeeling of the horror or the dread the demon supposedly spreads.

The acting is okay as well for the most part — there has never been any legit complaint in this department. Farmiga, like every connected sprocket in this machine, knows when to switch from wide-eyed cuteness to wide-eyed disbelief to wide-eyed horror.

She might not have much to do with the story — even though she has everything to do with the story — but she knows how to sell the role pretty well.

The question though is, for how long?

One guesses there are still some movies left in The Conjuring series — this is not the end of The Nun or Annabelle sub-sections, and there is at least one final Conjuring story left in the yet-to-be-filmed Conjuring: The Last Rites, which purportedly finishes the original story arc.

Any part succeeding The Nun II, however, desperately needs to up its ante because the soul, followed by evil and dread, left the body long ago. There isn’t any possession in the emancipated corpse.

Released by Universal, The Nun II is rated R for the usual jump scares in barely lit scenes. It is currently playing in cinemas across Pakistan

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 24th, 2023

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