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[BD Review] ‘The Last Exorcism Part II’ Accomplishes Next To Nothing

The Last Exorcism Part 2 made me long for the comparatively breakneck pace of the first film. While there’s some fascinating stuff happening in found footage on an indie level, the mainstream features hinging on the conceit are still (for the most part) stuck in the “nothing happens for the first 80 minutes” mode. Since this installment drops the POV approach I was actually kind of excited for the format shakeup here, stupidly thinking that maybe things would be sped along and an actual story would be told. Nope! If anything, this new sequel breaks new ground in treading water, wasting time and general narrative inertia. It’s an almost Herculean feat of nothingness.

Unencumbered by the justification of camera angles, The Last Exorcism Part 2 roams free in the slow burn wilderness of modest expectations. It picks up right where the first film left off, looks around, and scurries into oblivion. Nell Sweetzer – played by the quite good Ashley Bell – still isn’t quite right. After she crawls into the wrong bed in the wrong house she’s taken in by the kindly Frank Merle [Muse Watson], who places her in what basically amounts to a halfway house for troubled girls. Ostensibly troubled, I should say, since the movie can’t be bothered to develop any of them beyond establishing one girl’s disregard for stereo imaging by sharing her iPod earbuds with Nell five seconds after meeting her. Uninterestingly enough, this may be the first halfway house in cinema history populated entirely by normal people.

Nell gets a job as a maid at a local hotel and finds herself intrigued by all of the carnal sounds emitting from its hallways. This is actually one area in which the film does some nice character work. You can sense Nell’s temptation, not only to explore her own sexuality – but to be normal. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few nice character beats here featuring her grappling with New Orleans, and life, in general. But short films have character beats too and there’s no reason this movie needed to be longer than a 15 minute webisode. The film just plays these beats over and over again like a mobius strip until it looks at its watch and decides it’s time for some sort of truncated third act. Truly, any sense of escalation is pure wishful thinking on the part of the audience after watching the same scenario unfold countless times.

Finally, the film realizes that it’s hit the mandatory minimum length for a theatrical feature and decides to wrap things up. Director Ed Gass-Donnelly, having wisely kept things in neutral for 75 minutes, needs only to tap slightly on the accelerator to establish that this sputtering wretch is indeed drawing to a close. There’s a quick exorcism (voodoo this time) that utterly lacks the visceral impact of the first film, a brief return to the halfway house and a denouement punctuated by flashes of what may be the worst CGI flames to ever leap out of a DCP.

It’s a shame because The Last Exorcism Part 2 features some good performances and decent technical work. Bell’s depiction of Nell is good enough to deserve a better movie. At one point I considered giving the film a pass on that merit alone. But that was before I realized I’d only been in the theater for 18 minutes and there were 70 left to go.

Official Score

  • Aaron Emery

    DAMMIT ! As the only person in the world who was excited to see this, I have to say I’m very discouraged! Oh well, about this time last year we were blessed with GONE so it could always be worse!

  • mexxican

    I went to the DC screening (thx for the passes) and it is so painful to watch as you slowly realize the wasted potential. Honestly, I don’t think they had a script, I think they thought they were just shooting scenes to cut for the trailer. Nell walks around, senses something familiar, then leaves as the camera zooms in on someone suspicious. Change scenery. Repeat.

    • EvanDickson

      @mexxican agreed!

    • daruckus

      Totally agree. I mean how the hell would a script for a piece of shit like this even read? And the effects were so bad; a girl on a bed “contorting” with terrible sound effects. That’s supposed to be scary? I didn’t count one single actual scary moment in the forty minutes I saw before walking out and getting a refund. There were only terrible jump scares. I was shocked that I was the first person (and possibly only) person to walk out.

  • djblack1313

    Evan you’re review is what i thought this movie would be. it just looked awful. i DID think (only going by the tv spots) that Ashley Bell looked like a good actress but that everything else in the footage looked abysmal.

  • Pali-Azzar

    There should be a law that states “If you release a movie and it DOES NOT have ‘part one’ in the title, you cannot make a sequel, no matter how much money it makes.

  • Kwonkicker

    I already made up a title for the (obviously coming) third film: The Last Exorcism Two Days Before The Friday After Next Part III-In 3D.

    Dude, Ashley Bell was great in this film but the whole thing felt like watching a really bad porno.

  • daruckus

    This doesn’t even deserve a 2/5 in my opinion. The audience should’ve been paid just to make it to the end. It was excruciating.

  • ill_mindedd

    it was nice to see Nells return, mainly because i find her oddly attractive. haha but i think the first film is way better. part 2 seemed irrlevent to me.

  • AndrewSoukup24

    Just seen it tonight and it was horrible…Ashley Bell plays a good character and it has some ok parts but nothing is original and I just wanted it to end.