“The Nun II” director Michael Chaves had to conjure up further violence onscreen for the supernatural horror film after test audiences demanded more gore.
Chaves told Entertainment Weekly that “people wanted more violence” when first seeing early screenings of the sequel starring Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene, who has an unholy connection to a demon possessing the body of a fellow nun, played by Bonnie Aarons.
“There was already a good degree of violence and gore in the movie, but people wanted more of it,” Chaves said. “So, we did a little bit of additional photography and we ramped that up. It just goes to show how audiences are always changing, evolving. Even in the earliest version, it was more (violent) than what was in your traditional ‘Conjuring’ movie.”
He added, “I think horror audiences have been on this journey, this horror renaissance, where they’ve seen a lot of horror movies, they’ve seen a lot of violence. It’s something they wanted more of and we gladly gave it.”
Chaves credited “Malignant” and M3GAN” screenwriter Akela Cooper for penning a script that had horrifying elements already, which were expanded upon for the rewrites.
“The studio (Warner Bros.) and James (Wan) had explored a couple of different sequel ideas — I won’t say what those were, in case those ideas end up coming back in another shape — but the draft that I got was of this new idea and this new take, and she did a fantastic job,” Chaves said of Cooper. “I was at first a little hesitant to join in on another ‘Conjuring’ movie. (The script) was one of the key things that really drew me back in, and even though we did develop it, and Akela wasn’t available to do all of the rewrites, a lot of those core ideas stayed through to the finished movie.”
IndieWire’s Alison Foreman applauded Chaves’ direction of the film, saying he “proves it’s possible to achieve an organic balance of open-air exploration and oppressive structure in a ‘Conjuring’-appropriate way — allowing Maurice and Irene ample time apart in scary scenes that seem to bloom in front of them, before stylishly forcing them back together for a fiendishly fun final act that’s much tighter and more terrifying.”
Foreman summed up in her review, “If The Conjuring Universe is a horror force you want to believe in again, then ‘The Nun II’ will bring you back to the faith.”