Last Exorcism Part II, The: Evil Will Always Triumph Because Good Is Dumb
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The Last Exorcism Part II Review: Evil Will Always Triumph Because Good Is Dumb

By Agent Bedhead | Film Reviews | March 2, 2013 | Comments ()


Goddammit, they ruined a perfectly smart horror movie with a perfectly stupid sequel. To be certain, I loved The Last Exorcism (so hard it hurt) for its wonderful character study (of a preacher working through a spiritual crisis) and exploration of the science vs. religion debate. That was a subtle movie with nearly perfect pacing that steadily built until the story turned inward onto itself and danced upon the soul of its own admittedly unreliable narrator who just happened to be the Diamond Dave of preachers. All of it culminated into a jarring twist ending that expertly left more questions than answers, and it left people wondering what exactly happened to Reverend Cotton Marcus and the rest of the rather intriguing characters of the story. Ultimately, the first film also refused to take a clear position on whether or not Nell was actually possessed or just fucking with everyone. And you know what? I really liked not knowing the answer to that question.

The Last Exorcism II, unfortunately, answers that question immediately. While the first movie was amazing in its restraint, the second movie lacks all manner of subtlety, and it abolishes all sense of mystery and suspense. It turns out everyone died in that sacrificial fire at the end of the first movie except for Nell (the still bendy and boot-loving Ashley Bell), who presumably gave birth to a demon baby and survived. It turns out Nell really was possessed by the demon Abalam, and worst of all, the compelling main character of the last movie (which was originally even called Cotton) is now completely gone. Oh, his voice shows up on a YouTube video (Nell's exorcism has gone viral, and she's a star, baby), and Cotton speaks through a radio, but otherwise, he's gone, gone, gone. And so is the main reason for watching this sequel. We do learn that Abalam is back, and he wants Nell in a very bad way, but it's different this time because he loves her. Last time, he only meant to impregnate her, but this time, he's got the warmies. Whatever.

Yet we persist with this review, so here's what happens: A disoriented Nell crawls out of the woods, and into a suburban couple's bed. That doesn't work out too well, so the girl is summarily shuffled into a New Orleans hospital and then a transitional home for troubled young girls like herself. The dude who runs the girls' home tells Nell, "Whatever you're running from, it won't find you here." Obviously, that's not the case, but we know that from the very beginning. Naturally, Nell is a bit of a mess and remembers bits and pieces of what happened (even the demon's name) but seems determined to put the past behind her and convinces herself that none of it was real. She makes some friends, and after a few months, she gets settled into a job as a motel maid (because motels are supposed to be creepy), and everything seems to be going well for awhile. However, if this protracted interlude was meant to build suspense, it doesn't quite work that way. Instead, it inspires boredom.

None of this is Ashley Bell's fault, of course, because she works the hell out of every facet of Nell's personality. Likewise, the production values of this movie are excellent, and you won't miss the (somewhat) shaky, handheld-camera, found-footage gimmick of the first movie even a bit. The problem here is the script, which lacks all manner of innovation until the final twenty minutes. In a sense, The Last Exorcism II suffers from the opposite problem that the first movie did. Most of the first movie was stellar, and the last few minutes wavered a bit. That twist ending wasn't enough to ruin the movie by any stretch, but the ending seemed tacked onto what was otherwise a solid creepfest. In the sequel, the first hour or so plods along without anything happening except for silly things like shadowy figures appearing in corners and windows, strange voices coming from people that they don't belong to, and phone calls with creepy sounds. In other words, stuff that inspires laughter. Then the last act of the movie really tries to bring it and actually does for a few sparse moments, but it just doesn't redeem the majority of the experience of watching this mostly insufferable sequel.

The strangest part of The Last Exorcism II is the confused nature of several of the human characters who interact with Nell. Mind you, none of them are even close to as fascinating as Cotton, but they're worth brief mention. For one, various cult members seem to follow Nell and, at times, inhabit the bodies of her fair-weather friends at the halfway house. Nell's father (Louis Herthum) returns in ghost form and either wants to save her, kill her, or both. Then there's Nell's sort-of boyfriend, Chris (Spencer Treat Clark), who gives out all sorts of unclear vibes but is mostly around to illustrate Nell's sexual awakening. Finally, there's a voodoo priestess named Cecile (Tarra Riggs), who is a benevolent force but has intentions of her own. These characters could have been used to build a stronger story, but they're just thrown in there haphazardly and with no sense of direction.

As I've already stated, there is no subtlety to The Last Exorcism II. The film relies too much on jump scares that aren't even scary, just headache inducing. This is a shame, because the first movie only delivered one slight jump scare at the beginning of the film. This time around, the instances where a character cautiously walks looks into the doorway of a darkened room to have something pop out at them are several, and it's merely an annoyance. Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly (I guess Daniel Stamm properly recognized that the first movie was best left as a one-off), nothing about this sequel is scary at all. Poor Nell deserved better than this.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • So.... why do the demons in all of these movies love doing yoga? So stupid.

  • jcoa2

    Nell's yoga classes are really paying off.

  • Nadine

    You liked the first one? I thought it was the dumbest fucking thing. Intriguing idae but that ending? Yikes.

  • Andrew

    Man the first one was an exercise in futility and if even the fans don't like this one.... It's rob zombies Halloween all over again

  • jen

    What's so scary about a Hanes commercial?

  • Robert

    "Goddammit, they ruined a perfectly smart horror movie with a perfectly stupid sequel...None of this is Ashley Bell’s fault."

    That alone could be the review of this POS. I got my hopes up that the sequel could work. It doesn't at all. I have bigger issues with the look of the film--everything is way too dark. You know there's a problem when the footage from the original film that took place in a powerless house and barn in the middle of the night is brighter than the daytime scenes in the sequel.

    Regarding Cotton, I thought his fate was pretty clearly explained with all the "She's the only survivor" exposition every 3 minutes in the sequel, not to mention how the original film ended.

  • duckandcover

    This review is exactly how I felt about the movie. I loved the first one and thought the ending was really out of left field (in a somewhat bad way, but it didn't tear down the movie completely). This movie, though, was completely off its rocker. When the phrase, "He loves you" came into a scene, I said in the theater, "We're done here." (Despite staying for the entire movie -- don't judge me.) There are so many things wrong with that plot point, the least of all being it's a demon who loves a human. It went from omnipotent continuation of the first great movie to Twilight Starring Abalam and Nell.

    I read Dustin's Dark Skies review and he brought up the best point regarding supernatural horror: the minute the movie tries to answer the questions that makes the movie mysterious, it turns in upon itself. And that's what this one did. The jump scares were all right, if a bit cheap, but the story was a complete mess. The ending served an even worse purpose to this movie than the ending did to the first movie.

  • They couldn't come up with a better title than 'The Last Exorcism II?' It's almost like they -want- to be made fun of. According to the review they didn't waste a lot of creative juices on the script, so you'd think they could come up with a better title.

  • jollies

    The Lone Rangers

  • F'mal DeHyde

    "The Last Exorcism Really Wasn't"

  • ,

    A major clue should have been "The Last ANYTHING II."

    They should have more fun with that than they do:

    "Last House on the Left II: The Creepy Cape Cod Next Door with the White Picket Impalement Fence and the Murderous Marigold Gardens"

    "Last House on the Left III: An Eight-Unit Apartment Building, Not Really Dangerous or Haunted or Anything, but the Rent's Reasonable"

    "Last House on the Left IV: Doublewide Disaster"

    "Last House on the Left V: Mostly Hidden by Vines and Shrubbery -- MEAN Shrubbery"

    "Last House on the Left VI: The Next Block"

  • Jeremy

    The first movie was ambiguous about whether she was possessed? I think it was pretty clear cut at the end of the movie.

  • bleujayone

    ".....*FOUR FEET* above her covers!"

  • Nicolae

    The headline is the best.

  • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

    This is the best film review I have read in years. In college I studied with two major film critics (of the 1980s) and wrote reviews for the campus newspaper. The local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, had several great film critics (and one really annoying one). Not since the 80s have I read a review that is both intelligent and phenomenally witty. I'll be following your writing with interest!

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Agent Bedhead's one of my faves.

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