a nun looks at a wall of magazines, where the silhouette of another, haunting nun is puzzled together in black
Credit: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

Against my best instincts, I’ve got to hand it to The Nun II. The chronology of the extended Conjuring universe reads like a Möbius strip at this point—this is a sequel to a spin-off of a sequel, which also acts as a distant prequel to the original The Conjuring—but instead of wasting time trying to make sense of that, director Michael Chaves sidesteps the never-ending lore to treat us to a pleasantly creaky haunted house experience. 

The film is cowritten by Akela Cooper (alongside Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing), who was behind 2023’s most prominent entry into the New Queer Cinema canon, M3GAN, and her creative presence is felt. Like M3GAN, this works better as a string of loosely connected set pieces than it does as a dramatic work. Most of the plot’s heavy-lifting is dealt with in the first half, during which we’re given updates on all our favorite characters: Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is back, and this time she’s Indiana Jones-coded and on a quest for a biblical artifact! And who could forget Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), the demonically-possessed farmer with a heart of gold?

These narrative-driven stretches mostly amount to scary movie white noise, but once they sort out the logistics of why the eponymous nun Valak (Bonnie Aarons) is causing a ruckus at a French boarding school, we settle into a frenetic rhythm of teens scurrying from room to room for 45 minutes and discovering increasingly baroque terrors behind every door. Bugs! Monsters! Ghost children! The Catholic horror wheel isn’t reinvented, and Valak isn’t a movie monster so much as she’s a composite sketch of one, but the jump scares are so nonstop and occasionally clever that I was left wondering: is this the most fun I’ve had at the movies all summer? R, 110 min.

Wide release in theaters