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Jul 30, 2013

Film Review: THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2 (2013): Bell Returns as Nell

Ashley Bell Julia Garner The Last Exorcism Part 2

The Last Exorcism Part II (2012) Film Review, a movie directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly and starring Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen, Tarra Riggs, Louis HerthumMuse Watson, Erica Michelle, Sharice A. Williams, Boyana Balta, Joe Chrest, Raeden Greer, Judd Lormand, E. Roger Mitchell, and Dane Rhodes.

*This movie review contain spoilers so please be warned before you begin reading it. *

I’m a big fan of horror movies. I don’t know if it’s because I watched Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of 6 (the 1990 remake, so it can also be considered a different kind of horrifying) or if it is my fascination with the creative nature of supernatural storytelling. Either way, when it comes to horror movies, I can be as particular as I am forgiving, and for me the concept of the movie is much more important than the delivery.

The Last Exorcism Part II, which, could we just marvel at that title for a second? If the first film was really the last exorcism, how can there be a part two? As I spoke about titles in my last review, I won’t dwell, but I just had to point out the dubious nature of this film’s title (especially since the movie lends itself to a third entry).

The story starts with Nell (Ashley Bell) trying to piece her life back together in a home for troubled girls. Nothing new here but it does the job of setting the story into motion. This situation is also the beginning of a problem that sort of lingers through the whole movie: a lot of it doesn’t make much sense unless you have seen The Last Exorcism. We are granted a flashback or two but it is hardly enough to really key us in to the original narrative. Whether it was on purpose or not, this movie clearly plays towards people who have seen the first installment, and while it is still watchable without having seen the original, sequels (especially in this day and age) should be able to stand on their own.

Like most horror movies there are some fun parts, some stupid parts, but overall it is a decent offering. The New Orleans setting works really well with the exorcism theme, and quite smartly they don’t overdo it with the voodoo nonsense that normally comes along with films set in the Big Easy.

I also felt the casting was appropriate. I don’t know much of Bell’s work but she conjured a Sissy Spacek look that works perfectly in the context of the film. Julia Garner who plays Gwen also does a nice job in a small but important role, carefully walking the line between best friend and worst enemy. And Spencer Treat Clark who plays Clark, Nell’s love interest, is one weird looking dude. Like I said, perfect casting.

I hated the ending to The Last Exorcism Part II but I can appreciate it. At first I felt that it ruined the movie but after some consideration I think it can go both ways. You will have to decide for yourself.

Without divulging too much about the film’s ending or its beginning, found footage films are not automatically a bad thing. A lot of people are sick of them and claim the shaky camera makes them sick. Most of the time I think what really makes them sick is that the film style is trying to compensate for a weak narrative structure. That being said, the “found footage camera drop” (if you have a better name for this trope have at it) is a practice that has to end (enough already). In the most transparent of moments, breathing speeds up, dialogue gets shaky, and sure enough, scream or no scream, the camera drops and we can only assume the worst. From now on I will just assume that the director ran out of ideas.

My recommendation would be to watch The Last Exorcism (part one) and follow it up with this for a nice horror movie night. Despite my previous comments, this film is not shot in the found footage style except for a short clip in the beginning, so those who normally stay away from that type of film should give it a chance. It won’t top the original Exorcist (or even give it a real run for its money) but you could do far worse.

Rating: 7/10