Ashley Bell returns as Nell Sweetzer, the farm girl whose exorcism in the first film, unfortunately for her, was, in fact, not her last. After a lethargically paced opening scene, we find Nell inside the apartment confines of an unsuspecting couple. She is then placed inside a halfway house for abandoned girls her age, and over the next few months, is counselled that she was just a victim of cult crimes as she tries to make a return to society. Before too long, Nell is revisited by the returning demon Abalam, who has plans for her.
What an asset it is to have the young actress Ashley Bell. Bell proves to be so much more than a possessed cirque du soleil performer. She brings so much to a character that was socially closed off and is now seeing the outside world for the first time while at the same time struggling with her faith and the horrors of her past. Bell has an infectious, almost angelic smile with a nervous laugh that lightens the screen in one moment and an ability with voice and contorted body to darken it the next. Bell reminds me of a young Sissy Spacek in Carrie. It’s an obvious comparison maybe, but it’s just too bad that these two films are so far off.
The film’s title. I guess the obvious joke is that The Last Exorcism released three years ago should have been titled “The Exorcism Next to the Last” since we now have a part two, and with this sequel’s obvious ending paving the road for a third entry, the 2010 critical and box office hit really should have been titled “The Exorcism Next to the Exorcism that is Next to the Last”.
For the stark contrast between the impressive original and the sequel. I really enjoyed Daniel Stamm’s horrifying ‘found footage’ original that explored the Christian psyche by challenging heavier themes of crisis of faith, the supernatural vs. scientific debunking, and the misuse of religious rituals used in the name of God. By investing honestly into the opposing cultures of faith and science with well-written and well-played characters, the scares were definitely there. Stamm’s The Last Exorcism could have reached the upper echelon of its genre if it weren’t for a wildly misguided ending that earned a groan instead of a fright from this viewer. Besides the ending and a wonderful performance from lead Ashley Bell, the Last Exorcism Part ll pretty much violates everything that was achieved in the first.
To an amateurish horror score from Michael Wandmacher which rivals his previous work from the groundbreaking horror From Justin to Kelly.
Even though the theater experienced Gass-Donnelly takes a little bit too much of a snail’s pace trying to re-establish Nell’s character, he’s still letting that character grow. That is until halfway through the film when the studio must have called down and told him to go into cliched demon horror movie mode. There is such an abrupt halt when the film’s interest and creepiness vanishes into thin air and is replaced by poorly attempted scare tactics and eventually gets washed down with a third act that loses all credibility and patience.
Bad movies don’t often piss me off all that often, but this one sure did. The Last Exorcism Part ll ruins everything that was good about the original except for the lead performance from Ashley Bell.
Take a Drink: whenever a TV, radio, or phone is misused by a demon.
Take a Drink: whenever you see a fly.
Take a Drink: for every new drawn religious symbol.
Take a Drink: whenever Frank Merle touches Nell.
Down a Shot: whenever Nell swears.