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Here she comes again – “The Nun II”

Updated: Nov 22, 2023


4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS

Fallen angel Valak (Bonnie Aarons) returns on a mission of its own. Once again, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is called upon to send the demon back to Hell.


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4K frame shots courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment - Click for Amazon purchase via an affiliate link


“THE NUN II”


4K Ultra HD, Digital copy; 2023; R for violent content and some terror; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)


Best extra: “The Nun II: Demons in Paradise” with James Wan












THERE’S A whole lot of screaming going on – and that’s how it should be in this new entry in The Conjuring Universe from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.


It’s 1956 and young Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is called upon to investigate a series of macabre deaths taking place across Europe. The church suspects the demon nun Valak is at it again. Irene’s response is, basically, “I don’t wanna do it.” Once was enough. But the Cardinal (David Horovitch) responds, “We need another miracle. Tag. You’re it.”


Next thing we see is Sister Irene heading out with novitiate Debra (Storm Reid) to follow a trail of unusually gruesome murders – in the first, a priest levitates in his church before bursting into flame – which takes them to a boarding school (re: the screaming). There they find the caretaker Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault (Jonas Bloquet), now a groundskeeper at the school. He appeared in the first film, so it’s a warm reunion despite the killings and scary premonitions. These are likable characters pitted against a really Big Bad.


(1) Young Jacques (Maxime Elias-Mente) and parishioners wait for mass to begin. Recent disturbances in the church have left the boy uncertain. (2) Father Noiret (Pascal Aubert) is lifted into the air where he bursts into flame, the first of many deaths as Valak returns in search of a special relic. It leaves a trail of gruesome deaths and destruction across France in its quest. (3) Four years after the events at Saint Cartha’s monastery, Sister Irene now serves in a convent in Italy. (4) Outspoken Sister Debra (Storm Reid) accompanies Sister Irene in the investigation after the Cardinal orders her to investigate the murders. They all fear the return of Valak. (5) An older sister tells the story about the demon hunters - a priest and a nun - Sister Irene - who were sent to the Saint Cartha monastery to confront a demon. (6) Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault (Jonas Bloquet), an ally and friend from the first film, is now a caretaker at a French boarding school. The reunion between him and Sister Irene is good, except for the possibility that Valak has returned.







Yes, “The Nun II” is predictable, full of shadows and jump scares. (I miss the subtleties of “The Conjuring,” the first film in the series ... the hanging body; the ghostly ‘clap.’) The big surprise here is that the sequel is a far better story than the original. Granted, we’re not sure how The Nun has returned this time to search for its lost relic; we do learn it’s a fallen angel – evil like the villains in John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books. (Recommended!) Still, if the solution of the first film failed, what can they do to stop her this time?


You will not believe it. It only left me thinking, “Yeah, this should have been the first film,” but that’s negligible. “The Nun II” is a traditional scare-fest from director Michael Chaves, who also brought us “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” and “The Curse of La Llorona.”


End credits hint that another “Conjuring” film with the Warrens, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, is in the works.


VIDEO

The film was captured on the 6K Sony CineAlta Venice 2 with anamorphic Panavision E-, G- and T-Series lenses in the AXS-R7 4K format. Filmed on location in Aix-en-Provence, the south of France, among ancient streets, buildings and a chapel, “The Nun II” maintains spooky authenticity throughout. Even daylight scenes are shadowed. According to comments in the extras, this helped the director, cinematographer and actors remain in character.


There is no Blu-ray, only a 4K disc and digital code presented in 2160p with 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Clarity is very good, showing fine details even in the darkest blacks. Contrast is also admirable from daylight to night and dark interior scenes.


Overall color leans toward a warm neutral, with realistic skin tones. The HDR10 peak brightness hits 691 nits and averages 137 nits, while the video bit rate varies from the upper 40 Megabits per second to 80 Mbps encoded onto a 66-GB disc.



(1&2) The screaming begins - literally - when Valak returns. (3) Sister Irene prays for help and guidance. (4) Sister Irene has no wish to confront Valak again, but the Cardinal (David Horovitch) insists. She was the one who defeated Valak before, and is their only hope to do so again now that the demon appears to have returned. (5) Sophie, a young sensitive played by Katelyn Rose Downey, who lives with her mother, teacher Kate (Anna Popplewell, Chronicles of Narnia), in the deconsecrated chapel that now hosts the boarding school. She is frequently bullied because of her innocence and talents. (6) Sophie and her mother study a strange, stained glass window in the boarding school basement. It features a goat, a symbol of Satan rather than God. Bad things are rumored to happen if the goat’s eyes turn red.






“Going to old Europe really gives the demon nun this sort of ancient, evil quality to her … For this movie, we were shooting the real towns in the story. We got so many buildings that are still preserved from the 14th century … where things have been rebuilt and preserved.” — Tristan Nyby, director of photography



AUDIO

Wow. The Conjuring films feature some of my favorite Atmos soundtracks bringing my home up to full-bore Halloween with random whispers, creaks and footsteps, coming from everywhere, especially in height speakers. “The Nun II” is no exception. Effects range from subtle to in-your-face, while dialogue comes through cleanly.


Music was composed by Marco Beltrami, whose credits include “Scream,” “Resident Evil,” “Hellboy,” “Live Free or Die Hard,” “3:10 To Yuma,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Snowpiercer,” and “A Quiet Place.


EXTRAS

There are only two short EPK featurettes. As mentioned, the best of the lot is “The Nun II: Demons in Paradise” with James Wan, Michael Chaves, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid and Tristan Nyby recalling their experiences on the shoot.


“Valac, the demon nun in the world of The Conjuring, became extremely popular. It became very apparent to us that we wanted to explore her origin more and see how she eventually made her way into the lives of the Warrens.” — James Wan, creator/producer


“Handcrafter Nightmares” is a shade longer, going into how practical effects were mostly used instead of CGI. What a difference they make!

Horror fans as well as fans of The Conjuring series should have a fine time with “The Nun II.” Don’t expect it to present more than the usual tropes, although we do learn more about Valak, a fascinating character. The location setting and practical effects are terrific, and the cast does a fine job keeping us involved.


Nightmares for all!


— Kay Reynolds


(1) Sister Irene is haunted by premonitions and visions of Valak. (2-6) The screaming continues as Valak wrecks havoc.

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