March 1, 2013
Ed Gass Donnelly, Damien Chazelle, Huck Botko (Characters), Andrew Gurland (Characters)
Ed Gass Donnelly
Ashley Bell as Nell
Julia Garner as Gwen
Spencer Treat Clark as Chris
David Jensen as Calder
Tarra Riggs as Cecile
Louis Herthum as Louis
Muse Watson as Frank Merle
Erica Michelle as Daphne
The low budget horror film The Last Exorcismmade a splash on the horror scene based on two things, initially: the full faith and credit of Eli Roth as producer and promoter, and a girl with an amazing contortionist abilities. The fact that the story was pretty original and the tale was pretty good helped things along in spite of an ending that left many horror fans disappointed. The film did well enough that it spawned The Last Exorcism Part II. What does this sequel have going for it? Eli Roth is still serving as a producer, though he is not as aggressively advertising that fact, but unfortunately not much else.
After a quick montage from the original The Last Exorcism to bring the audience up to date, The Last Exorcism Part II begins with a couple in bed, obviously after a fight. When the male wakes up wondering why his partner is so freezing cold and shivering he is surprised to see that his wife is actually in the doorway of the bathroom and it is some intruder in bed with him… it is the acrobatic and possessed Nell who it appears has escaped after the death wash ending of the first installment of the film series.
Nell is subjected to a series of psychological tests and then sent to a halfway house to get her life in order, and she seems to be coming to terms with the fact that she is demon-free and ready to start a new life. Then, of course, the demon decides to come back in full force and the nightmare starts all over again.
The Last Exorcism Part II has a few good things going for it, but ultimately the film is complete hogwash; slow, boring and uneventful through most of the presentation, and ridiculously cheap and cheesy in the climax. One would think that with such a strong showing the first time around the newly formed franchise would add a bit of budget, or at least a little ingenuity to the equation and really make a stand as a strong horror offering, but alas this is not to be. There were, again, some good things about the film… so let’s start with that.
The acting performances in this film are across the board strong. Ashley Bell reprises her role as the possessed Nell from the original film, and she is actually quite a good actress – not just a good contortionist. The supporting roles of Gwen played by Julia Garner, Chris by Spencer Treat Clark and Frank Merle played by Muse Watson are believable and appropriate, and during the first half of the film the characters and drama unfolding are almost enough to make up for the extremely slow pace and lack of anything really happening at all…. Almost. This film has the interesting quality of always seeming as if the “good stuff” is right around the corner, and could happen any minute. It never really does, but it always seems like it is about to. It is the strength of the performers and characters that allows for this to be more than simply a complete train wreck.
Aside from the performances there are a few scenarios that have good potential for horror, notably when Nell is walking around Marti Gras in New Orleans among a series of masked creeps she doesn’t notice, and the “tin man” street performer who seems to follow Nell around in spite of the fact that he is standing like a statue every time he is on screen. Both of these elements could have been developed and made scary, but instead they were just kind of added into the mix and then forgotten. Missed opportunity.
Missed opportunity is the theme of the day with this film, and even the good performers couldn’t save the fact that nothing ever really happens here to get the heart pumping. Even the climax, which should by all accounts be the most exciting and fear-inducing part of the film, was so wrought with obviously fake dummies flying out windows and CGI flames that it was laughable, almost an insult. If an audience is going to sit through a slow and tedious script watching set-up and drama unfold, then that same audience is due some kind of payoff. The Last Exorcism Part IIhas no payoff whatsoever.
It is pretty clear why Eli Roth did not hit the road promoting The Last Exorcism Part II with the same vigor that he did the first film – that first one was a low budget yet creative endeavor that may not have been seen were it not for a star with the stature of Eli Roth getting behind it, and that would have been a shame. If nobody watches Part II, on the other hand, that won’t be a shame. Frankly, I liked the ridiculous flop of a follow-up to The Blair Witch Project more than this sophomore effort.
The one bright spot is that Ashley Bell is one to watch, and can certainly make a splash on the horror scene, should she choose to do so. But… there are other ways to see Ms. Bell, and it is recommended that you choose one of those other paths, and take a pass on The Last Exorcism Part II. I would certainly undo watching this film if I could.