Review – The Last Exorcism Part II

The word “last” clearly shouldn’t be taken literally in this lazy and derivative money-grabbing sequel that puts the ‘moron’ into oxymoron.

The word "last" clearly shouldn't be taken literally in this lazy and derivative money-grabbing sequel that puts the 'moron' into oxymoron in The Last Exorcism Part II

The word “last” clearly shouldn’t be taken literally in this lazy and derivative money-grabbing sequel that puts the ‘moron’ into oxymoron in The Last Exorcism Part II

Made for a pittance, 2010’s The Last Exorcism was something of a surprise hit with both horror-lovers and critics. Its plot was a clever twist on a tried and tested genre and at its core was a genuinely impressive performance by the relatively unknown Ashley Bell as troubled Nell Sweetzer.

Ashley Bell after reading the script for The Last Exorcism Part II

Ashley Bell after reading the script for The Last Exorcism Part II

The filmmakers (including producer Eli Roth) looked to have shaken off the tired and stale tropes of the found footage format for the first 70 unnerving and taut minutes, lost their bottle in the final reel and retreated to tried and tested genre staples, undermining everything the movie until that point had worked so hard to subvert.

The fact the film made a big profit was undoubtedly the driving force behind this ill-judged follow-up, whose title is as hilarious as it is non-sensical. Once again produced by Roth, directing duties have this time fallen to Canadian Ed Gass-Donnelly in what was presumably hoped to be a career breakthrough.

An unusual sleep pattern in The Last Exorcism Part II

An unusual sleep pattern in The Last Exorcism Part II

The opening credits are essentially a flashback to the events of the first movie, wherein a disillusioned preacher (played by Patrick Fabian) works with a documentary film crew to chronicle his final ‘exorcism’ and expose the whole practice as nothing more than religious hokum. The subject is Nell, whose father is convinced is possessed by the devil; but little do the preacher and film crew know that this particular case of satanic possession is all-too-real.

Picking up a short time afterwards, Part II‘s creepiest moments occur in the first few minutes when a demonic-looking Nell is discovered hiding in a couple’s kitchen. Alas, the promise of the opening scene dissolves quicker than you can say “Pazuzu”, and we’re very swiftly subjected to a game of spot the rip-off.

Poor old Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) in The Last Exorcism Part II

Poor old Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) in The Last Exorcism Part II

Nell is sent to a home for girls run by the kindly Frank (Muse Watson) and gradually comes out of her shell. She makes friends with several of the other girls, gets a job as a chambermaid and even develops a budding romance with bland hotel worker Chris (Spencer Treat Clark).

However, you know something bad’s going to happen when Frank reassures Nell by saying: “Whatever you’re running from won’t find you here.” And you definitely know it’s a case of famous last words when Nell happily declares: “There was a darkness, but now it’s gone … none of it was real.”

Gwen (Julia Garner) looking bland/evil in The Last Exorcism Part II

Gwen (Julia Garner) looking bland/evil in The Last Exorcism Part II

It almost goes without saying that Nell’s going to pay for wearing lipstick, being attracted to Chris and listening to rock ‘n’ roll (the devil’s music, lest we forget), but the film doesn’t even try to subvert what we know is coming from a mile off. What scares there are (next to none) are ruined by the lazy cliché of being accompanied by explosions of sound. A film’s always in trouble when is has to resort to that.

Bell gives a far better performance than the film deserves. Without her it would have been a total car wreck and it’s to her credit her turn brings to mind Sissy Spacek’s Carrie and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. It’s a good job too, as the largely forgettable supporting cast only seem able to alternative between looking confused, evil or dumb.

To make matters worse, the door is left open for a sort of Omen III: The Final Conflict-style sequel which sounds about as much fun as being decapitated by a sheet of glass. Still, The Last Last Last Exorcism as it should be known could hardly be as demonic a waste of time as this.

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10 comments

  1. r361n4 · June 9, 2013

    So sad you had to see this, absolutely terrible (as anything that contains the word “Last ‘something’: part II would suggest). I really couldn’t tell if Bell was giving a strong performance or not because of the weakness of the entire film around her, but I can see both sides. Nice Review 🙂

    • Three Rows Back · June 9, 2013

      Cheers man. I think Bell’s performance was genuinely good, although she didn’t have to try too hard to upstage the rest of the cast. I wanted this film to be good as I largely enjoyed the first one but, Bell’s turn aside, I got nothing from it.

  2. mikeyb185 · June 9, 2013

    Brilliant review. It sounds very derivative. I’m going to give it a miss

  3. GaryLee828 · June 9, 2013

    This film is no worse than “The Possession” or “Mama”. I think you’re being a bit overly critical. I’m not saying the film was great, but it wasn’t as terrible as you’re making it out to be. The story stays on track, each scene advances the story bit-by-bit, moving at a pretty good pace that sets us up for the somewhat surprising ending.

    The “last” exorcism is of Cotton’s exorcism career, so the title fits. But Cotton dies, and the exorcism was never completed, therefore this sequel is supposed to be a continuation of that exorcism – so the “Last Exorcism 2” makes sense. I understand if some may not like it, but to imply that the writers and producers are “morons” is over-the-top.

    The film focuses so much on Nell, and as you pointed out Ashley Bell does a great job, so that in itself amplifies the film. If a lesser actress had taken the role of Nell then I could see the film failing drastically, but Bell’s performance kept this thing afloat.

    Again, not saying it was great, but it’s not nearly as bad as you say; you make it seem like it’s as lame as Texas Chainsaw 3D, or Scream 4, or that Halloween sequel with Busta Rhymes.

    • Three Rows Back · June 9, 2013

      Thanks for reading the review and for taking the time to respond. Regarding The Possession and Mama, not having seen those films I can’t make the comparison, but saying they are “no worse” than The Last Exorcism: Part II sounds like faint praise at best.

      I take on board that you feel the film’s storyline and pacing are good (I personally thought the ending was fairly predictable), but I feel you undermine your argument when you later state you could “see the film failing drastically” without Ashley Bell being in it.

      In terms of the title, you’re right in that Cotton’s exorcism was never completed, but that doesn’t mean the exorcism performed in the sequel is a direct continuation of the one he performed. As the plot makes clear, the main events of Part II take place several months afer the events of the original. Cotton’s attempt at exorcising Nell’s demon was a failure and it’s strongly suggested he dies at the end. Part II’s exorcism is completely separate. In my opinion, calling a film The Last Exorcism: Part II just sounds silly and makes a mockery of the original’s title. As for the “moron” jibe, I appreciate this is my opinion and is not shared by everyone, but I feel a film that steals off The Omen, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie without bothering to do anything original is treating its audience as “morons”.

      I’m glad you liked the film more than I did. As for Texas Chainsaw 3D, Scream 4 and the Busta Rhymes-starring Halloween: Resurrection, you’re absolutely right; they’re all stinkers!

      • GaryLee828 · June 9, 2013

        But it IS a continuation of the exorcism b/c it’s the same subject being exorcised. Nell’s exorcism was not completed; this is an attempt at continuing to exorcise Nell of her possession, regardless of the outside source attempting to perform the exorcism.

        What I didn’t expect to happen was for the exorcists to attempt to kill her at the end. I thought that was uncalled for; put her in an asylum and give her treatment if you must, but to murder her seems heartless. I was not expecting that.

        I went into The Possession and Mama with high expectations – and into The Last Exrocism 2 with low expectations; so I came out feeling more satisfied with TLE 2 even though it’s not a better film. They’re all on about the same level – even though they are some Rami & Del Toro fans out there who will swear their films are superior, even though they’re really not. Mama was pretty good up until the lame cliche 3rd act – and The Possession proved to be nothing more than a generic recycled possession movie.

        I don’t feel I undermined my argument by saying if a lesser known actress would have ruined the movie b/c I think most movies would be ruined by bad acting, as many horror movies are. I guess the acting is the difference between horror and “B Horror” and that b/c the acting was good here I don’t think it should be categorized as a “B Horror” level film. I think the directing was pretty solid, as well.

        If you want to see off-track bad directing check out “The Purge”.

      • Three Rows Back · June 10, 2013

        I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree by the looks of it. An aiming to catch The Purge so will make a special note of the direction.

  4. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop · June 10, 2013

    Nice review mate. I’m not a huge fan of exorcism movies (The Exorcist aside) so I think I’ll be skipping this one. There just seems to be a few too many of these films around now.

    • Three Rows Back · June 10, 2013

      Thanks very much. I’d avoid this first and foremost because it’s a bad movie! I love horror and really don’t mind exorcism movies if they’re done with originality (which is why I largely enjoyed the first one), but this is neither scary (apart from the creepy opening scene) nor original.

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