Tag Archives: Jonas Bloquet

Sister Sleuth

The Nun II

by Hope Madden

The Nun II has at least one thing going for it. If someone could figure out what to do with her, that villain is creepy as hell.

Why? Partly because no one cuts a terrifying figure quite like Bonnie Aarons. And partly because, let’s be honest, nuns are scary. Like clowns. It’s just true.

We first ran into this Bad Habit in James Wan’s adequate 2016 sequel The Conjuring 2, but the film divided its villains up: old coot in a rocking chair (“I’m Bill Wilkins!”), the Crooked Man and – well, best not to say her name. But her screentime was very limited.

Then there was the tease in another middling sequel, Annabelle: Creation (a mediocre film, but miles better than the first in that particular franchise). She finally got her own story in 2018, with Corin Hardy’s wildly mediocre The Nun.

Can this excellent idea for a villain be put to good use, finally, with Michael Chaves’s sequel, The Nun II?


It’s fine. It’s rated R, so that’s a start, although I’m not certain how it was deemed so problematic as to deserve the “keep the kids away” rating. There are a few creative deaths, almost elegantly macabre.

Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is back on the trail of the demon nun after a series of disturbing deaths. Most of our time is spent in a monastery-turned-winery-turned-boarding school where Sister’s Irene’s old friend Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) has a job as a handyman and a crush on a teacher.

And, if memory serves, an inverted cross seared into the back of his neck. That smells like trouble (and burnt skin).

The setting is spooky, stagey and often quite atmospheric. Several of the set pieces are designed gorgeously. Bloquet continues to charm, and we not only get a nun this time but a very alarming goat-man. Nice!

The perversion of religious imagery continues to be the downfall of the series. It’s hard to take seriously, of course, because the Catholic church has a history of doing that itself. (The diocese of Syracuse claimed bankruptcy this summer due to the $100 million it owes to victims of sexual abuse.) This series would be more effective if the evil nun represented the decay within the church rather than a rogue demon weakened by an emissary of the Vatican.

Alas, Chaves settles for a bit of theoretical silliness bolstered by a nice touch of feminism, which feels delightfully heretical. So at least there’s that.

Hey, Soul Sister

The Nun

by Hope Madden

When we were four, my sister and I wandered off at the Toledo zoo. Nuns found us and reunited us—via lost and found? I don’t remember—with the larger Madden clan. And that’s the thing about nuns: they are either entirely wonderful or entirely terrifying. There is no middle ground.

Corin Hardy knows that. With that knowledge, The Hallows director crafts his little part of The Conjuring universe with a history lesson on that scary sister, The Nun.

His film, written by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle, It) from a story by James Wan, takes us back to the 1950s when the Vatican called upon a priest with a specific set of skills. Fr. Burke (Demián Bichir) investigates the suicide of a cloistered nun in remote Romania, bringing along a novitiate nun, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga – little sister to Conjuring star Vera).

You think nuns are creepy? Well, they fit right in at crumbling old Romanian abbeys. Hardy and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre make glorious use of the location, and then create richly shadowed castle interiors suitable for Dracula himself.

Hardy throws any number of really eerie visuals onscreen as Farmiga’s novitiate (a nun who hasn’t yet taken her final vows) descends into the demonic labyrinth, while Father Burke fights demons (personal and literal) just outside the gate.

Velvety shadows and jump scares, medieval witchery and the now-quaint idea that the Catholic Church can save us—Hardy balances all these items with nostalgia, humor and a fun dose of Conjuring universe odes.

Farmiga brings enough salt-of-the-earthiness with her innocence to make Sr. Irene relatable. Bichir seems less suited to the role of holy man, but as an investigator who smells something rotten, he works out well.

The real treat is Jonas Bloquet as Frenchie, the French-Canadian transport living in Romania who can carry a torch into catacombs with the best of them. He’s funny, his scenes keeping the film from veering into committing the sin of taking itself too seriously and losing its audience.

Where the film comes up short is in imagination. Mainly, it bears far too strong a resemblance to another Irishman’s Catholic horror, Devil’s Doorway, which follows two priests investigating strange phenomenon at a convent only to find something sinister in the tunnels beneath.

Though Devil’s Doorway lacked the visual flair, budget and humor of The Nun, it sidestepped the nostalgia that casts the Catholic Church in such unvarnished light, so it felt a bit more relevant and less disposable.

Still, with a slight, sometimes silly storyline and an awful lot of atmosphere, Hardy manages an entertaining if forgettable 90 minutes.