Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Let me start off by saying that I loved the original Last Exorcism. For my money that was a PG-13 flick done right, with likable characters and enough subtle yet effective scares to keep things interesting until it revealed itself to be a glorious Seventies style demon baby flick. Some liked the ending, while most hated it. Count me in the “like” category.
Making a sequel to a found footage film can be a tricky affair, especially when you switch the shooting style to a more traditional narrative approach. Just as with Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, the transition presented in The Last Exorcism Part II goes anything but smoothly, and unfortunately that’s the least of the film’s problems. More on that in a bit.
Things kick off on the same night as the first film, and we finally get to see what happened to Nell (Bell) after the fire in the woods burned up audiences everywhere. Arguably this opening moment is the film’s sole effective scene. From there our recently possessed heroine ends up in a house for wayward girls, where she ends up fitting in pretty well… that is until its inhabitants realize that Nell “has got a demon in her.” Nell ends up – through a rather silly set of circumstances – hooking up with a group who believe that they can finally do what is necessary to cure our poor protagonist of the demon Abalam.
Of course an exorcism ensues, and truth be told, it’s like none we’ve ever seen on the screen. Not because anything outrageous happens. More so because it’s as painfully dull as it is completely ludicrous. Without going into too much detail, the whole endeavor begins with hooking Nell up to an IV filled with holy water. No. I’m not kidding. All in all, however, just like in the rest of the movie, nothing happens. Hell, Ashley Bell doesn’t even get to contort (and sorry but the levitation scene doesn’t count). Instead she just gets all screamy, and then CGI ripples appear on her stomach a couple of times. Really that’s it. I’m not expecting a retread of Exorcist type hijinx, but come on. Give us something. The exorcism scene in this movie makes the one found in the last seem like the most captivating case of demonic possession ever caught on film.
While The Last Exorcism Part II does look good, and it’s apparent that director Ed Gass-Donnelly does have an eye for the camera, nothing else here really works. There’s a vast difference between the skillful usage of subtle restraint and causing outright boredom, and this one sits firmly in the Oh My God, Please Something Happen” camp. All we get are ill-timed jump scares and a couple of creepy moments scattered about the incredibly slow-moving affair. Not even the appearance of Nell’s father (a returning Louis Herthum, whose ghost somehow managed to grow a beard in between films) packs an emotional punch. It’s as if he’s just there to remind us that this is a sequel. Watching this movie is like staring into a hollow tree. There’s little to no emotional connection to what you’re seeing. It’s just something to look at that changes shape and color with the passage of time.
In terms of the whole unrated cut thing… there’s one additional scene that lasts a few seconds involving a slit throat. That’s it.
Even the special features are of the cookie cutter variety. You get two quick featurettes and the inclusion of a Last Exorcism prank that took place at a beauty salon that’s scarier than anything in the feature film. A commentary by Ed Gass-Donnelly and producer Eli Roth is included, and honestly, there’s seventy-five times more energy in that than there is in the movie. It’s apparent that Gass-Donnelly had the best of intentions, and this makes it all the more tragic that he failed so badly in his efforts.
Even more painful? Just when The Last Exorcism Part II starts to get really good, the movie ends. Yes, it was a good ending, but it’s way too little way too late. I’d be interested in seeing where the storyline goes from here because it does exhibit a great deal of promise, but sitting through this second part is nothing short of an absolute chore to get to the goods. Barring the possibility of a third film that can right this one’s wrongs, it’d be wiser to let the last Last Exorcism truly be the last.
– Hair Salon Scare – The Last Exorcism Part II goes Viral — Unsuspecting customers at a beauty salon are given a frightening surprise when a haunting image of a Nell look alike stares back at them from their mirror.
– Nell’s Story – Ashley Bell gives fans a glimpse at what they can expect in the continuation of the story started in The Last Exorcism.
– Shooting in New Orleans – Producer Eli Roth and Ashley Bell discuss why shooting the film in New Orleans was the perfect backdrop for the movie.
2 out of 5
2 out of 5