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Review The Nun II (2023): It looks pretty but doesn't deliver on the scares and terror!

genre: horror

It's funny how sometimes you have fooled yourself of a film to be better than you initially thought. My review on the original is such an example. I was convinced that I liked it. But after reading back, I can honestly say that I am probably getting a little softer with age.

Seems like my problems with the original are also present in this one, and wouldn't you believe it, they have gone worse. The first major problem is the fact that The Nun II is not scary. Not even in the slightest. The few jump scare moments are very ineffective. The earlier films in The Conjuring franchise always were focused on dread before spectacle. But for whatever reason, especially, the later ones, the films also are demonstrations of CGI cleverness. Sure, they make a good picture. By that, I mean, one can appreciate the art. But is anything substantial done with it? Unfortunately, no. Let's take the special effect sequence from the original Ring (Ringu), you know, the scene with the TV. Very clever idea (not sure original since Demons did it too). But I would take that over any fancy super good-looking CGI sequence where all it does is show how pretty it is. The Ringu scene not only gave the explanation for how the killings were done, it also absolutely frightened you to death. In The Nun II there are several (on paper) frightening events occurring which imply that the demon is capable of being at multiple places at once. That should terrify us. Yet, before you have registered what is going on, almost everything creepy and scary is taken away from you. Foreshadowing can be cool, when done right. But in this film, it happens all the time. You simply know what is going to happen next. Producer / writer / director James Wan for example is a master for playing around with these expectations. He gives you a small taste to then put you at ease and then strike at the moments you don't expect them. Clearly director Michael Chaves has a lot to learn.

Visually, the film, looks good. But perhaps too good. You can immediately notice things when they are off. Part of the fun is discovering things that aren't so obvious. Or, better, have you wondering whether you imagined it or not. The acting is solid too. No one can fault the actors for not delivering the terror. But why would that impress, if the terror itself is lame. And I hate to be that guy, but here it comes. The pacing and duration of this film. It's too long. Obviously, there is not enough substance present to warrant this long duration. Had they for example started slow, building up tension and dread and then have a thirty-minute thrill ride, I would not have minded. It's the fact that many pivotal scenes are dragging. Because there are no surprises to speak of. They could have easily with some misdirection, but I guess that would have been too ambitious for Chaves.

Overall, The Nun II, fails to deliver on the scares and terror. Instead, it's a demonstration of how not to make a horror film.

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