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Comparing a sequel to the movie that came before it isn’t always the best idea. It can often be a practice that ends in needless disappointment. Thankfully though, comparing The Nun II (2023) to The Nun (2018) helps highlight all the things that make The Nun II a solid movie and an even better follow-up. Listed here are the top seven reasons why if you’re a fan of The Nun, you should definitely check out the sequel. And if you didn’t like The Nun, these reasons should hopefully convince you to give the sequel a chance.
This article contains minor spoilers for The Nun and The Nun II.
The Nun II Has a Bigger Supporting Cast
In The Nun, the focus of the story is almost exclusively on its three main characters: Sister Irene, Father Burke, and Frenchie/Maurice. Though that works for the smaller, more contained movie The Nun tries to tell, The Nun II is able to create a more complex narrative with its supporting cast.
Irene is partnered with Debra, a novice nun whose questions about faith help illuminate Irene’s own sense of who she is as a person, and who she is as a servant of God. Irene’s character arc in The Nun II is more pronounced than in The Nun, and even Debra has a small character arc of her own which plays directly into the finale of the film.
Maurice is also a more well-rounded character in The Nun II. This is in part thanks to more screen time in the sequel, but it also has to do with his interactions with Kate, a teacher at the boarding school he works at, and Kate’s daughter Sophie. The dramatic irony of the audience knowing that Maurice is possessed even as he gets closer to Kate and Sophie creates a great type of tension that isn’t seen in the The Nun. Also, even Sophie’s main tormentor, the mean girl Simone, has her own mini character arc with the school’s headmaster Madame Laurent. All of these supporting characters contribute to a story that ends up being more emotionally complex and fulfilling than what was experienced in The Nun.
The Nun II Benefits from Lower Expectations
When The Nun came out in 2018, many people expected many things from the movie. It was released a year after the well-received Annabelle: Creation (2017) which set a new high bar for spinoffs in the Conjuring franchise after the less-liked Annabelle (2014). Much like Annabelle: Creation revealed the origins of the Annabelle doll, The Nun was positioned as an origin story for the mysterious and thoroughly creepy nun first seen in The Conjuring 2 (2016). Though The Nun technically does show us the demonic nun’s origin, the main focus of the story is less about where the demon first came from in the Middle Ages, and much more about the investigation of deaths at a monastery in 1952. To some people, the promise of a true origin story might not have been fulfilled to their liking.
By contrast, The Nun II didn’t have any promises attached to it as far as world-building goes. No one knew exactly what to expect from the sequel, and having fewer preconceived notions allowed the audience to be carried away by the story much easier. The first movie didn’t fare particularly well with critics or fans, but initial reactions to The Nun II were much more favorable. Being able to present a new movie without anything in particular to live up to likely helped present The Nun II in a better light.
The Nun II Has a More Complex Mystery
The investigation into the deaths seen in The Nun is rather straightforward. Father Burke and Sister Irene are sent to the monastery where the deaths occurred, they learn about the monastery’s dark history and the demon that is trying to escape its walls, and they figure out how to deal with it. It’s simple, but it works for a movie primarily built on atmosphere and jump scares.
In The Nun II, the mystery surrounding the demon Valak requires more sleuthing from Sister Irene. The audience knows that Maurice has been possessed since the finale of The Nun, but Irene must piece that together as she and Debra track a series of mysterious deaths spanning from Romania to France. A considerable amount of time in the movie is devoted to Irene and Debra’s investigation.
Also, the nature of Valak’s goal in The Nun II is more interesting. In The Nun, Valak wants a body to possess so it can escape from the monastery. That’s known right from the beginning of the movie. In the sequel, Valak’s true, overarching motives are exposed. By the end of The Nun II, we know why Valak chooses its targets, and what Valak is really looking for. All of these revelations are revealed gradually as Irene learns more and gets closer to the truth.
The Connection Between Irene and Valak is Deeper in The Nun II
Sister Irene has always been shown to have some sort of connection to the demon Valak. During her investigation at a Romanian monastery in The Nun, we know Irene is fated to face off with Valak because of the visions of Mary she has had her entire life. Those visions are what point her to finding the relic needed to combat the demon. Beyond that though, the connection between Valak and Irene is left mostly up to interpretation.
The Nun II explicitly shows us why Irene and Valak are repeatedly drawn together. Without spoiling the specifics of the finale, Irene’s ability to fight the demon comes directly from her connection to what Valak is searching for. It is Irene’s strength, but it is also what makes her a target. Similarly, the power Valak seeks is also its biggest weakness. This increased level of complexity makes the final battle in The Nun II much more interesting.
The Finale in The Nun II is More Exciting
The final battle between Irene and Valak in The Nun II is more interesting thanks to a greater emphasis on the connection between the two characters, and everything surrounding that battle makes the finale more satisfying overall. Every member of the supporting cast plays a role in making the final act of The Nun II feel much bigger than the previous movie’s finale. Kate, Sophie, and Debra all play vital roles in the final few minutes of the movie, and their actions create a series of parallel scenes that come together in a grand spectacle as Irene faces off with Valak.
The Methods of Valak are on Better Display
Fans of the Conjuring Universe have come to know the demon Valak from its multiple appearances within the franchise. Though the nun is the form most often associated with Valak, it has actually taken different forms at different times. For example, in The Conjuring 2 Valak briefly took the form of The Crooked Man.
Valak originally took the form of a nun since it was summoned inside a monastery and was trapped there for centuries, but a nun isn’t its true form. In The Nun II, it is said that Valak can take the form of whatever is scariest for the person who encounters the demon. Towards the end of the movie, two other demonic entities besides the nun appear in the boarding school. These are (spoiler) a devil-like goat and the roach-covered corpse of Madame Laurent. There are two possibilities here. Either these two other entities are separate forms of Valak used specifically to terrify the targets they appear to, or Valak is simply facilitating the arrival of these entities as part of its master plan. Either could be true, and both theories put Valak’s intelligence on display quite well.
The Nun II Connects More Strongly to The Conjuring
For fans of the ever-expanding Conjuring Universe, The Nun II smartly connects its story to the Conjuring movies in a way that is unobtrusive. First, fans have speculated since The Nun that Sister Irene and Lorraine Warren are connected in some way. It makes sense since the actors who play those roles, Taissa Farmiga and Vera Farmiga, are sisters and their resemblance to each other is unmistakable. A few fan theories suggested that Irene actually is Lorraine Warren. That idea may be a bit far-fetched, but The Nun II does directly address the idea that Irene and Lorraine are linked. Without spoiling the movie, the link between the two characters also explains why Valak and Lorraine Warren are drawn to each other.
There is also a direct visual reference to The Conjuring 2 in The Nun II. At one point in The Nun II, Sophie sees Valak at the end of a hallway. Even though the scene takes place in a shadowy area of the boarding school, the hallway seen by Sophie is lit well and has flowered wallpaper on its walls. The hallway is actually the same hallway in the Warren’s house where Ed and Lorraine’s daughter Judy first sees the demon nun in The Conjuring 2. In fact, it looks like the exact same shot. This explicit connection to the mainline Conjuring series is a nice Easter egg for fans, and it’s a good way of making the The Nun II feel like essential viewing rather than just a spinoff that can be overlooked.
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- 10 Years Later and James Wan’s The Conjuring Is Still a Masterclass in Jump Scares
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