Eli Roth’s The Last Exorcism was a “found footage” movie I really wanted to like. Against my better judgment, I went to see it in the theater and weathered through the first 70 minutes fighting off motion sickness the entire time. I was pleased with it until it unraveled in the last 5 minutes into a disappointing blend of The Blair Witch Project and Rosemary’s Baby.
The Last Exorcism Part II picks up with Nell Sweetzer going to live in a girl’s home after the tragic events of the first movie. Things seem to be going well as she settles in to her new life by making friends, getting a job, and experiencing her first romantic relationship. Unfortunately, the demon Abalam has followed her to New Orleans and is jealous of her newfound friends and love life. He wants Nell for himself and will stop at nothing to re-take her soul.
How I thought a follow-up with the ridiculous title The Last Exorcism Part II would undo any of the damage done by the first film’s pedestrian conclusion remains to be seen. It’s my own fault for having ANY expectations going into this completely unnecessary sequel. To say there’s no reason for this to exist would be foolish, as the box office take proves otherwise. Good or bad, it paid for itself and made enough money to justify its existence financially.
There are a couple positive aspects I can talk about in regards to The Last Exorcism Part II. Ashley Bell’s performance as demon-oppressed Nell Sweetzer is so captivating and heartfelt that it gives the movie an emotional depth it doesn’t deserve. She’s been rightfully compared to Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Bell is destined to shine in much better films in the future.
The second thing that makes this movie easier to stomach than the first is its lack of shaky-cam cinematography. What you see on screen might be mediocre and dull, but at least your eyes can focus on it. You’ll have no need for an airplane barf bag when watching this.
Everything else found in The Last Exorcism Part II is recycled filler at best. We’re supposed to believe the demon is in love with Nell. This is displayed in an awkward scene where she is levitated off her bed Exorcist style and then sexually manhandled by the invisible Abalam. All this is happening right next to her sleeping roommate.
The physical embodiment of Abalam is laughable at best. Basically, it’s a person in regular street clothing and hoodie wearing a mask for a masquerade ball. This is the best idea Co-writer Damien Chazelle and Director/Co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly could come up with?
Although the rest of the movie is nothing to get excited over, the climax and ending of the film is where it completely falls apart. Once again, a horror movie about demon possession finds the “good guys” seeking out a solution to the problem through other avenues besides the obvious. It’s convenient that in every one of these movies there’s never a priest or pastor around who truly has strong enough faith to exorcise the demon from the victim.
This time, a secret organization known as the Order of the Right Hand who use Haitian voodoo rituals and the conjuring of Baron Samedi is called upon to lure the demon out of Nell’s body. Use the powers of a Haitian Voodoo spirit known for disruption, obscenity, debauchery, and his love of tobacco and rum to battle a demon intent on possessing a girl? If it doesn’t sound like this strategy makes a lot of sense, it’s because it DOESN’T!
Extra features for the DVD release of The Last Exorcism Part II are more entertaining than the movie itself. A featurette entitled “Hair Salon Scare” shows people getting groomed in front of a two-way mirror. The image of a freaky girl resembling Nell appears through the glass and scares the customers. The “Shooting in New Orleans” featurette will interest anyone wanting to watch Producer Eli Roth make a fool of himself by admitting he had any part in the making of this dreadful film.
The Last Exorcism Part II is as senseless story wise as its name. It’s a string of redundant horror movie clichés only held together by Ashley Bell’s wonderfully plausible and overly qualified acting. Count yourself blessed if you haven’t already wasted your time watching this mess.