Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)


Darren Lynn Bousman


Chris Rock - Detective Zeke Banks

Max Minghella - Detective William Schenk

Samuel L. Jackson - Marcus Banks

Marisol Nichols - Captain Angie Garza

Daniel Petronijevic - Detective Marv “Boz” Bozwick

Genre - Horror/Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Running Time - 93 Minutes


Working in the shadow of an esteemed police veteran, brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks and his rookie partner take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.


With the return of the SAW franchise with SAW X this weekend, I’ve been going back and rewatching the entire franchise from the beginning. If you’ve been following this blog for many years, you know I’m a big fan of the first three films, as well as the surprisingly solid SAW VI [the one dealing with health insurance]. The rest of the installments stem from being a bit above average to just dull or awful, with convoluted storylines and messing with the timeline to repetitive effects. While not many loved it, I thought 2018’s JIGSAW was a step in the right direction after the awful SAW 3D, which wrapped things up in a clumsy, cheap note. But the film didn’t set the box office on fire, so Lionsgate decided to go into a different direction for the series’ ninth installment.

2021’s SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW is the only film in the franchise I hadn’t watched prior to rewatching every single film in the series this month. It’s not like I didn’t have a curiosity about it. After all, getting both Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson in a SAW movie will pique anyone’s interest. What amazes me is that SPIRAL was an idea by Rock himself, being a huge SAW fan and wanting to contribute to the franchise by taking things into a different direction while still maintaining elements that make the franchise what it is. Jackson joined because horror wasn’t a genre he was specifically known for and wanted to try things he hadn’t done. Other actors, who were fans of the franchise, won out roles that weren’t meant for them by impressing Lionsgate executives.

With this much level of care and focus, you’d think SPIRAL would kick off a new era for the SAW series with some self-contained stories not involving John Kramer aka “The Jigsaw Killer”. Making SPIRAL more of a police procedural and mystery with “torture porn” elements included should have brought new life into a franchise that was, let’s be honest, long in the tooth by this point and had pretty much milked itself dry. Unfortunately, SPIRAL had a few things going against it.

One, it was released in the summer of 2021. Theaters had just started to really open again after COVID-19 had pretty much shut everything down for over a year. People were still too scared to head inside a theater with other people, feeling a movie was not a good reason to get a life-threatening illness - especially when vaccines had just started to roll out for it.

Two, there probably wasn’t much interest in another SAW film at the time. Despite the stunt casting and a new take on a tired story, fans probably figured they could just wait until the film hit streaming and digital. 

And three, SPIRAL isn’t that good of a movie. Critics were mixed on it. Fans didn’t really have much positive feedback to provide. And after watching it, SPIRAL is a film that has a ton of potential and interesting ideas, but doesn’t really know what to do with any of them.

After two years of hyping myself to finally sit down and watch SPIRAL, I couldn’t believe how disappointed I felt once the film concluded. There was so much potential here to make the film something special within the franchise. Considering the capable cast, a returning director who helmed two of the best entries in the series, and a good idea to reboot a tired franchise, SPIRAL should have been better than it actually is. While I don’t think it’s the worst entry in the series [it’s super close though], even the worst movie [SAW 3D] had a goofy, awful charm about it that makes it sort of rewatchable. I don’t think SPIRAL even has that, despite the film being better made.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. I appreciate and respect the fact that SPIRAL wants to be its own thing, while taking what was established into a new direction. It’s definitely the right move to make, considering that the main villain has been long dead and all these apprentices that were never revealed until the story finds it convenient just makes the newer installments lesser than the films that came before it. Having a copycat Jigsaw killer with their own puppet, going after corrupt cops for a believable reason that’s revealed in the final act, is a fascinating idea that could have set up several films. You can kind of understand the villain’s motives, which could have been extended into other movies if SPIRAL had done better. While the script itself isn’t great, the narrative idea is interesting and should have elevated the franchise.

I also thought the traps, while not as elaborate as previous ones in the SAW series, weren’t too bad. Considering this was a copycat who wanted revenge on crooked police officers, there is less focus on morality and trying to help others appreciate their lives. So these traps were definitely intended to really hurt, or even murder, the victims. I thought the first trap with the tongue was good, especially the gory aftermath. I even liked the glass one near the end. The rest were fine, I guess. The wax one was kind of lame, but the trap that stretched out parts of the body was an interesting concept. These were probably the weakest traps in the entire series, but I like the intent for each one.

I also thought some of the cast were good in their roles. Samuel L. Jackson was probably the best, playing a subtle version of the role he usually plays. He’s not in the film a whole lot, but makes the most of every appearance. And his acting in the film’s final act is pretty good. I also liked Riverdale’s Marisol Nichols as the police captain. She had the right mix of toughness and vulnerability that made her believable. And Max Minghella was good as the rookie detective who unfortunately gets caught up in this whole copycat scenario. He carried himself well for the most part.

As for the rest, what the hell happened here? The screenplay is not good at all, with cringey dialogue and the biggest group of unlikable characters I’ve seen in this series yet. Despite Chris Rock’s Zeke supposedly being the protagonist of the film, he comes across as bitter, overly angry and just a person you would never want to know. I understand bad things have happened to him due to his crooked co-workers, but there’s no sympathy for a man who acts like a jerk to pretty much everyone. Even when he’s given choices to be a better person, he still acts like a prick. If Rock had intended his character to be the main hero of a new trilogy or something, then I’m glad SPIRAL didn’t do well at the box office.

Let’s not even talk about his co-workers, who all hate Zeke for snitching on one of their own. For police officers, they only care about themselves and their brotherhood rather than doing the right thing and helping their lead detective solve the mystery of a new serial killer ruining lives. None of them are likable, always acting or looking shifty as hell. In fact, most of the detectives in this franchise seem like the worst people to know in this universe. None of these characters have any depth either, which makes me not care about any of them. The only likable person is the rookie Schenk, because he genuinely cares about solving this mystery and listens to Zeke to make that happen. It makes him stick out from the rest.

It also doesn’t help that you can solve the mystery within the first half hour of the movie. I pretty much called who the new Jigsaw was pretty early on, with only the motive being questioned. For a movie trying to build a mystery and shock its audience with a twist in the final act, it’s very underwhelming when you call it almost at the start. I thought the motivation and reasoning for the copycat was pretty good, but I wish I was more surprised by who it was.

I also thought Darren Lynn Bousman’s direction wasn’t all that good either. I’m really surprised since I enjoyed his previous films in the franchise, as well as REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. But I wasn’t feeling it here. The editing is really weird, especially the ending of the film that pissed me off so much, I actually lowered the original score I was planning on giving this movie. The most action-oriented scenes don’t feel exciting. The traps aren’t shot in a way that would make you cringe or feel a certain way other than pretty bored. There’s like no tension or suspense at all, which is terrible for a mystery-thriller. I thought the gorier stuff was shot well and the quieter moments were stronger than most. But as a complete movie, it felt very off to me. Maybe that was intentional to make it feel separate from the main SAW films while maintaining its position as part of the series. I just found Bousman’s direction bland, which is alarming because I think he’s one of the better directors to work on this franchise. 

As for Chris Rock, I really wanted to like him in the main role of Detective Zeke. But I think he tried too hard to be this bad ass cop that it made his performance unintentionally amusing for all the wrong reasons. When he tries to act tough, it doesn’t feel real. It’s like he’s doing a skit on Saturday Night Live or something. His attempts at humor feel really dated. A TWILIGHT joke, really? In 2021? Even when he tries to act afraid, something about it just comes across as phony to me. I do think he has good moments with Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella, only because he’s acting natural in those quieter one-on-one scenes. While I appreciate Rock for wanting to be part of a series he loved and his attempt to create something fresh to keep the franchise going for a new generation, I think he was severely miscast in the lead role. 

And despite being part of the SAW series, I thought SPIRAL felt pretty tame considering having traps that were more gruesome than the ones in JIGSAW. At least JIGSAW had a constant energy going for it, keeping me engaged the entire time. SPIRAL seems to be figuring out its own identity throughout its runtime, which doesn’t make for a pleasant experience watching it.


Despite a capable cast, a director who helmed two of the better installments, and a story idea that could have been the focus of future entries if it had succeeded commercially, SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW just comes across as a massive disappointment. I respect Chris Rock and Lionsgate for wanting to take the series into a new, fresher direction while maintaining what makes the franchise what it is. I appreciate the producers for wanting to build a new mystery that builds on The Jigsaw Killer. While probably the weakest traps in the franchise, I still like most of the concepts and thought the aftermath of each were pretty memorable. And some of the actors [Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols and Max Minghella] were quite good in their respective roles.

But man, SPIRAL has a disappointing mystery you can solve within a half hour of the movie. Ninety-five percent of the characters are so unlikable, including the film’s really frustrating main character, that you don’t care about any of them. Darren Lynn Bousman’s direction isn’t the greatest either. With odd editing, no suspense or tension [this is a thriller, right?], and an ending that made me so angry that it caused me to lower my original score, this is surprisingly not Bousman’s best turn as a filmmaker. And Chris Rock, despite him trying to play things as serious and tough as possible, just doesn’t come across as believable as a detective who is trying to solve a crime without much help from his crooked co-workers. This is one of the biggest miscasts for a lead actor I’ve seen in quite a while.

Thankfully the hype and positive reception to SAW X has kept my appreciation for this franchise intact, because SPIRAL almost destroyed that once those end credits rolled. Close to the worst film in the series, as far as I’m concerned. The epitome of wasted potential.


1.5 Howls Outta 4

(4 out of 10)


The Exorcist III (1990)

William Peter Blatty


George C. Scott - Lieutenant William F. Kinderman 

Ed Flanders - Father Joseph Dyer

Jason Miller - Patient X / Damien Karras

Scott Wilson - Dr. Temple

Brad Dourif - James Venamun / The "Gemini Killer"

Genre - Horror/Mystery/Crime/Demons/Possession/Serial Killers

Running Time - 110 Minutes


Set fifteen years after the original film, THE EXORCIST III centers around the philosophical Lieutenant William F. Kinderman who is investigating a baffling series of murders around Georgetown that all contain the hallmarks of The Gemini, a deceased serial killer. It eventually leads him to a catatonic patient in a psychiatric hospital who has recently started to speak, claiming he is the The Gemini and detailing the murders, but bears a striking resemblance to Father Damien Karras.


With THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER coming to theaters in a couple of weeks, I’ve been revisiting THE EXORCIST franchise to get hyped up for a sequel/reboot that will probably won’t live to even the lowest expectations. The first film from 1973 still holds up exceptionally as a horror classic. THE HERETIC: EXORCIST II from 1977 would be appreciated as some sort of camp and so-bad-it’s-good movie if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s meant to be the sequel to an absolute masterpiece. Talk about a massive disappointment, although there are some out there who appreciate it for the trash that it is.

Despite the horror genre waning in popularity amongst the mainstream during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hollywood decided it was time to step back into the world of THE EXORCIST. In 1990, THE EXORCIST III was released to some decent success both critically and even financially. Based on William Peter Blatty’s sequel novel Legion, Blatty himself decided to adapt his novel into a screenplay. He also decided to direct the film himself to make sure his story was given the respect it deserved and be a truly serious sequel to the original unlike THE HERETIC.

Even in 2023, THE EXORCIST III is still the only other film in the series [besides the first] to be given massive praise for its tone, approach to the narrative, and even the overall production. Despite the studio wanting Blatty’s ending to be more akin to the ending of the original EXORCIST [which he was against, creating the need of a Legion Cut that’s closer to the novel’s conclusion], THE EXORCIST III is still a super solid flick that ought to get more love and attention than it actually does.

While there is still demonic activity and supernatural occurrences one would expect out of an EXORCIST movie, THE EXORCIST III is more in line with a crime procedural at times - sort of like SE7EN, FALLEN or even COPYCAT would do years later. The main narrative revolves around “The Gemini Killer”, a serial killer who is known to cut certain fingers or drain a victim’s blood as a trademark, along with desecrating religious statues by beheading them, painting them in blackface or adding sexual connotations that would disturb most people. The problem about all this is that it’s believed “The Gemini Killer” had been already found and executed for his crimes. And while at first this new series of murders seem like a copycat, this new killer is doing things the old “Gemini Killer” would do that only the police know about [the real modus operandi and trademarks were kept from the public].

The detective investigating this is Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, a supporting character from the original EXORCIST who was investigating all the murders and strange activity happening around the McNeil household at the time. Along with his friend Father Dyer, another supporting character from the first film, they’re wondering if this may be the real "Gemini Killer" doing all these heinous things. It gets stranger as all clues lead them to a psychiatric hospital where Father Karras seems to be the main suspect - which shouldn’t be possible since Father Dyer found him dead on those infamous McNeil steps after he took in the demon that had possessed Regan and sacrificed himself by leaping out of a window to his supposed death. So when confronting Father Karras in his hospital room, he sometimes appears as himself and then as someone named James Venamun, who claims to be the real “Gemini Killer”. So what’s going on?

This mystery really raises the creep factor of THE EXORCIST III, as we’re not sure what we’re really seeing or supposed to believe when it comes to “The Gemini Killer”. There’s obviously a possession going on with the same demon [Pazuzu] who had possessed both Regan and Karras. But is this man really Karras, or is he James Venamun? Is he both? Is he neither? Through Lt. Kinderman, who is a skeptic and doesn’t believe in any of the stories about demon possession and a previous exorcism, his slow belief about the supernatural is a great character arc and gets the audience invested to go along the ride with him as he starts to figure out the truth. The story of the storytelling and mystery is strengthened by personnel and patients at the psychiatric hospital, who all behave in strange ways for whatever reason, making you question if these people are all influenced by this evil or are just quirky as heck and are red herrings to throw off one’s scent. Everyone besides Kinderman and Dyer all seem like they’re hiding something from the Lieutenant, putting to question whether this is all really happening or something this evil presence is doing to confuse the detective along with the audience. Unlike the goofiness and overly ambitious script that plagued THE HERETIC, Blatty treats this whole scenario seriously - something that helped the original EXORCIST to achieve the status it did from all audiences [not just horror audiences]. We care about Kinderman and his investigation because he cares and doesn’t let anything strange or personal stop him from finding out the truth.

While the theatrical cut and the Legion Cut are similar in many ways, the real differences are how “The Gemini Killer” is presented and the endings themselves. In the Legion Cut, we don’t even get Father Karras at all, with James Venamun being the only real antagonist. This actually cements the narrative as more realistic, as Venamun is just a “normal” man who may know more things about the serial killings than one ought to. Or maybe he’s possessed after all. Or just plain crazy. There’s something supernatural going on in the theatrical version, but the Legion Cut makes you question it a bit more until the end. 

As for the endings, The Legion Cut ends pretty abruptly with a single gunshot to wrap things up. The studio had issues with this because nothing in this version played up to the title of the film. In other words, where was the exorcism? So despite Blatty being against it, he took up the challenge to build up a more fantastical ending involving an underused priest, supernatural effects and a battle between good versus evil that connected itself back to THE EXORCIST. I know a lot of people prefer the simpler ending of the Legion Cut, but I feel the theatrical ending kicks things up a few notches and feels more satisfying to me as a whole. Kinderman finally believes in demonic possession, Father Karras gets redeemed a bit, and it truly feels the evil is gone for the time being. I can appreciate a more subtle approach for the original plan, but an EXORCIST movie should have some sort of exorcism in it. Both versions are worth your time, but I feel the theatrical version is a bit more exciting to watch due to the ending.

William Peter Blatty is a great novelist, but he also makes for a very good director as well. His second and last directorial film [the first being the awesome 1980’s THE NINTH CONFIGURATION], Blatty is more subtle in his visual approach than William Friedkin or even John Boorman. Blatty’s style is more comparable to a 90s thriller - slow [but not dull], muted colors, and adding weird things in the background that make you focus on the entire shot rather than what is just happening in the foreground. I mean, there are people crawling on ceilings, morphing into multiple people and even that classic moment involving a nurse and a large pair of shears. And despite his arguments against filming it, I think the theatrical ending is shot pretty well for the most part. Honestly, THE EXORCIST III is more of an actor’s showcase where the characters are more important than the visuals. But Blatty does a good job and manages to direct a sequel that feels more connected to the first one than THE HERETIC ever did.

The cast is very solid. George C. Scott is pretty great as Lt. Kinderman, playing a gruff skeptic who finally starts to believe he’s way over-his-head with a situation he has no idea how to deal with until the end. I love how quiet his performance is at the start of the film, but turns a bit more hammy and over-the-top towards the end. It’s wonderful. Ed Flanders is also great as Father Dyer, bringing in some humor to a serious movie. His chemistry with Scott is awesome and you truly believe these two have been friends for decades. Scott Wilson is solid as Dr. Temple. Jason Miller is very good as the returning Father Karras, struggling with what happened to him at the end of the first film. But Brad Dourif is the main reason to watch THE EXORCIST III, as he steals every scene as “The Gemini Killer” James Venamun. Dourif is just captivating and commanding through his subtle body language, maniacal facial expressions and the strong reciting of his dialogue. He’s given more to say and do in The Legion Cut, being the best part of that version as well. Just a fantastic performance in a great sequel.


is probably one of the more underrated great horror sequels ever made. Subtly strong direction by William Peter Blatty, a captivating mystery mixed with some memorable scares and visuals, and fantastic performances - especially by George C. Scott, Jason Miller and especially Brad Dourif. While it’s not a masterpiece like the 1973 original, this 1990 sequel is definitely a massive improvement over 1977’s THE HERETIC: EXORCIST II in every single way, making this the first real sequel [in my opinion] of the franchise. While I prefer the Theatrical Cut due to its final act, The Legion Cut is no slouch and offers something to those wanting a more grounded resolution. Either way, this is a mandatory viewing for any fan of this franchise.


3.5 Howls Outta 4

(9 out of 10)


DOUBLE FEATURE: The Nun (2018) & The Nun II (2023)


Corin Hardy (THE NUN)

Michael Chaves (THE NUN II)


Taissa Farmiga - Sister Irene

Jonas Bloquet - Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault

Bonnie Aarons - The Nun

Demian Bichir - Father Burke (THE NUN)

Ingrid Bisu - Sister Oana (THE NUN)

Charlotte Hope - Sister Victoria (THE NUN)

Storm Reid - Debra (THE NUN II)

Anna Popplewell - Kate (THE NUN II)

Katelyn Rose Downey - Sophie (THE NUN II)

Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Demons/Possession

Running Time - 96 Minutes (THE NUN)/110 Minutes (THE NUN II)


THE NUN - When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past (Demian Bichir) and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows (Taissa Farmiga) are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun (Bonnie Aarons) that first terrorized audiences in THE CONJURING 2 as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

THE NUN II - Four years after the events at the Abbey of St. Carta, Sister Irene returns once again and comes face to face with the demonic force Valak, the Nun.


After taking a much needed break from reviewing since April, I was planning on returning many times for films that were being released theatrically for the past few months. While there were a couple of gems out there [THE BLACKENING and TALK TO ME], the others just left me in a state of “meh”.

THE BOOGEYMAN? Fine, but not motivating enough to discuss.

INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR? Underwhelming return for the original cast that probably would have lowered my original score if I had written about it.

THE HAUNTED MANSION? I forgot it even existed and so should you.

THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER? Hopefully for all our sakes.

But I knew I had to return for something. And with 2023’s spooky season finally here, we got some big projects being released. SAW X? THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER? FIVE NIGHT AT FREDDY’S? There are films many of us will be discussing for the next couple of months.

However things are starting early with THE NUN II, another spin-off of the popular and successful THE CONJURING franchise that not many people were all that excited about honestly. Despite watching all three CONJURING flicks [first two are aces, the third one is whatever], I have never sat down and watched any of the spin-offs. No ANNABELLE movies. Not THE NUN flicks. And I never bothered with THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA. But I’m an AMC A-List member and I figured I might as well use my subscription on this. But first, I had to watch the original NUN movie to understand this sequel.

And man… 2018’s THE NUN is not a good movie. In fact, it’s so uneventful that I have already forgotten what I watched [besides the flashbacks and call backs in the sequel]. Audiences must have really loved the Nun character in THE CONJURING 2, which is the only explanation I can come up with when it comes to its good box office numbers. But I’m sure some wished they had never bothered after watching it.

The good? THE NUN has a ton of atmosphere and mood that at least tries to give the movie a creepy vibe that the story and direction fail to do. So great Gothic cinematography boosts the first film, along with a solid cast that also elevates proceedings a bit. Bonnie Aarons is a wonderful presence as the evil Nun, while Taissa Farmiga and Demian Bichir do well with what they’re given as the two main protagonists. Jonas Bloquet is also okay, although his attempt as the comic relief doesn’t really work at all and feels forced.

Other than that, THE NUN is a mess of a spin-off. Director Corin Hardy relies too much on jump scares - none of them work, by the way - making the film feel more annoying than scary. And the story is all over the place, to the point where it’s big ambition to do an INDIANA JONES and DA VINCI CODE type of narrative just takes you out of it and makes you not remember much at all once it’s over. Not only do you have an evil Nun, but you also have a demonic ghost child, the blood of Jesus Christ as a MacGuffin, and a young nun with visions that may or may not be doing more harm than good. The film honestly barely kept my interest despite all of this, mainly because none of these plot devices felt truly developed. THE CONJURING films work because they follow the slow burn, less-is-more approach. THE NUN tries too much and feels like an unnecessary cash in as a result.

Because of my lack of feelings for THE NUN, I honestly wasn’t expecting much out of THE NUN II. But surprisingly, this is a sequel that actually manages to be a huge improvement over the first one in almost every single way. Hell, I liked THE NUN II more than some of the other recent films that I wrote about earlier.

The producers of THE NUN must have realized that despite the money they made, the fan and critical response wasn’t great. And despite this sequel being a total cash grab and unnecessary, I have to actually admire everyone involved for fixing some of the issues and actually trying to make a decently watchable film that felt more focused and purposeful for the overall franchise. I’m not saying that THE NUN II is a masterpiece or even good, but I can respect producers who see the error of their ways to create a film even a hater like me could even enjoy for the most part.

What helps this sequel is that THE NUN II has a tighter, more focused narrative that keeps things as simple as possible, despite it being pretty generic and cliche. There’s an actual course of action from beginning to end that makes sense, allowing characters old and new to develop into actual people we can somewhat care about and/or have a reaction to, despite a larger cast. 

Unlike the adventure and mystery style of the first film, THE NUN II is a more straightforward good versus evil, exorcism type of movie that we’ve all seen done multiple times before. And while we’ve already had films this year that have done this [THE POPE’S EXORCIST] and films yet to come [THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER], at least it’s a narrative I can easily understand and get into. Frenchie being possessed by the Nun’s evil gives the movie a reason for Sister Irene to seek him out and reconnect. His possession also justifies why he’s working at a Catholic school and seeking some ancient artifact for his possessor to gain ultimate power. These plot devices allow older characters to grow in a more interesting way that the previous film didn’t allow them to, while giving newer characters a reason to exist - even if most of them are just there to be victims of the evil that’s corrupting the school. Sister Irene’s new friendship and mentorship with nun-in-training Debra is given enough time to develop into something interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind it continuing if there’s another installment. Frenchie’s more serious character is a massive improvement and he becomes a well-written character because of it, especially through his relationships with a woman he previously had feelings for [Irene] and the teacher he falls for [Kate] fleshing him out and giving him a reason to fight against the evil possessing him. We even have a decent mystery and some bullish female characters that will probably elicit some sort of reaction from the audience.

The direction by Michael Chaves, who also directed CONJURING spin-off THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA [which I’ve never bothered with] and THE CONJURING 3 [yuck], does a good job with THE NUN II. The film loses a lot of its atmosphere and mood from the first film unfortunately. But the tone and action is done a lot better here. There’s no unnecessary comedy getting in the way. The jump scares are kept to a minimum. The newsstand scene from the trailer is still effective within the context of the film [great scene]. And the film’s final act is pretty strong, especially when we have the Nun stalking people, a ton of explosions and a good looking Devil-Goat thing that terrorizes the school. Chaves doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything like that, but I thought the film was visually more interesting than the first film.

The actors are also pretty good here again. The returning actors [Farmiga and Blochet] are much stronger in the sequel, due to better writing for their characters and just an overall confidence boost from both of them. Blochet, in particular, is handled much better here than in the first as he’s given more meaty material to chew on. Bonnie Aarons is still wonderful as the evil Nun, maintaining the same level of malevolent presence she had in THE CONJURING 2. The only actor who felt a bit out-of-place is probably Storm Reid as the new nun-in-training Debra. She’s not terrible or anything [actually, she’s good in the role she’s given], but her character is written in such a modern way that her performance doesn’t fit the tone of a 1950s period piece. You get a bit used to it by the film’s end, but it’s definitely jarring for her first few scenes. 


Even though I had to sit through the bland and unimpressive THE NUN from 2018 in order to watch the current THE NUN II, I’m kind of glad I did since the sequel is a much better time than the first installment. THE NUN skates by with a great atmosphere and decent performances, but not much else. THE NUN II is an improvement in almost every way. Better performances, more care with the jump scares and a more interesting, if not generic, good versus evil exorcism movie that allows some depth to characters who didn’t have much before.

In fact, I had more fun with THE NUN II than a majority of the big screen horror films I’ve watched this summer, which is surprising since I didn’t care about this sequel at all prior to viewing it. I don’t think any of THE NUN films are must-sees or anything, but it may be worth sitting through the dull first movie in order to get caught up with the much more watchable sequel. With the success of the new installment, we’ll probably see more about this character. But we don’t really need NUN of that, do we?


THE NUN (2018)

1.5 Howls Outta 4

(4 out of 10)

THE NUN II (2023)

2.5 Howls Outta 4

(6 out of 10)

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