I feel that I should immediately tell you I wasn’t particularly fond of the Eli Roth produced/Daniel Stamm directed 2010 surprise success The Last Exorcism. Following in the found-footage footsteps of Paranormal Activity, I thought exorcist Cotton Marcus and his bumbling documentary team to be quite the bore, brought to life by stale scripting and barely watchable horror. So with expectations already six feet under, I shrugged and entered Ed Gass-Donnelly’s sequel The Last Exorcism Part II convincing myself “well it couldn’t get any worse.” Oh how very wrong I was.
Still produced by Eli Roth, I’m astonished that such a horrendous excuse for watchable horror could be tied to one of my favorite visionaries in the genre today. Sure, a sequel was inevitable given The Last Exorcism‘s 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and bankable financial success, but to trot out a pitiful mess like this as a follow up? If The Last Exorcism Part II was a racehorse, I would have put this wretched beast down on first sight alone before the race even started – that’s how hideously weak this “film” looked.
If you forgot what happened to our possessed female main character Nell (Ashley Bell) in the original, or just slept through the lazily filmed paranormal boredom (took me three tries to get through the damned thing myself), our sequel picks up exactly where we left off. Cotton and his team are no longer with us, Nell just had some crazy baby for a satanic cult, and we’re left in the dark – until now.
Nell turns back up and is put in a foster home for wayward girls her age where she can focus on building a new life and forget her religiously tormented past. Right, because demons just give up that easy when fixated on destroying humanity? As you can assume, her old pal Abalam (the demon) comes back from hell for another round of body-controlling terror – except he’s turned into a giant pussy this time.
In terms of excitement and intrigue, The Last Exorcism Part II sees a drastic decrease of adrenaline levels from an already snooze-inducing starting point, only producing scares the few times Nell abruptly flashes back to Cotton’s failed demon-driving attempts in a cheap display of cash-in jump-scares. It’s one thing to utilize past material in an already haunting scenario, but it only looks embarrassing when the scariest parts of your sequel are all stolen from another director’s work.
As for Abalam’s possession plan, things take a turn for the dull, awkward, and downright stupid when it’s revealed our evil demon has the hots for Nell and is powerless without her. Yes. “Nell and Abalam sittin’ in a tree – Kill-ing all of human-i-ty.”
But seriously, gone are the moments of body-contorting horror which made actress Ashley Bell famous in The Last Exorcism, replaced with scenes of personal heavy petting and kinky ghost sexual harassment – which is exactly where Gass-Donnelly lost me. Every night instead of messing with Nell and turning her world into fiery chaos, we’re forced to watch Abalam possess Nell’s hand and stroke her own face with it in a *gags* loving display of affection, culminating in a cartoonisly exaggerated embrace between the two late one night.
While asleep, we see Nell’s body arch forward out of bed, as she’s writhing in pleasure, and then we watch Nell be pulled higher and higher towards the ceiling until her outstretched belly practically touches it, then the demon gently lays her down. That’s it. No death, destruction, spastic movements, attacks on other characters – as I said, Abalam really is quite worthless. Tickling girls in their sleep and having your paranormal being act as pervy as Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man sure as hell doesn’t constitute horror, but then again neither does anything The Last Exorcism Part II attempts.
Ashley Bell, the main reason for most of the horror found in The Last Exorcism, becomes handcuffed by aggravatingly uneducated scripting which takes away her strongest asset, her body twisting, and replaces said talent with demonic romance. The Last Exorcism Part II should have just left the horror romantics to Warm Bodies, because once the plot point is uncovered, any shred of suspenseful integrity is written completely out of Nell’s story. Abalam turns into nothing but a creepy stalker you can’t even see. It’s like being scared of that wheezy kid from Hey Arnold that always followed Helga around. F%cking ridiculous.
There are certain rules all awful horror movies follow. If something remotely exciting happens, it happens off screen. If they want to scare you, they rely solely on loud noises instead of true visual horror. If there is a dominating evil force, audiences are cheated out of actually seeing what the demon looks like. If there are side-characters, they are foolishly underdeveloped in an effort to make the main character seem more important. These are all common flubs by modern horror movies, and yup, The Last Exorcism Part II unforgivably commits every single sin. Every. Single. One. How can you respect a horror film which can only spark fear by cranking up the volume or flashing random footage like a nauseating viral video?
All this and I haven’t even discussed the anti-climactic downer ending. I mean we see it coming, it’s so painfully obvious, but the whole ordeal looks like something from a horror spoof movie – I couldn’t take it serious in the least. Not only that, but the film actually had a perfect moment to reveal Abalam in a pretty cool shot while Nell is sitting in a car, and I actually thought Gass-Donnelly would make the right decision for once, but I should have known better after being cinematically insulted for the last hour and twenty minutes or so. Abalam’s reveal could have been fun if the camera would have done a front view of the car, looking in the windshield to see Nell driving and Abalam sitting shotgun, or if Nell’s face morphed into Abalam’s when looking in the rear-view mirror to signify his presence – but no, we don’t get a single damn glimpse after building his legend since the original film. LAME.
Nell shouldn’t be the only one feeling violated by something they wish they never saw – and I wouldn’t normally talk about such a controversial topics like ghost rape unless I was dreadfully serious. This is one of those instances though, as I’m almost certain I’ve just seen the worst horror movie of 2013 in The Last Exorcism Part II. Don’t feel bad for the players either, because Ashley Bell will surely see success for her two-time performance as Nell, but if all goes well, her second appearance will be forgotten and overwritten by much more illustrious high-points.
The Last Exorcism Part II is boring, lifeless, misguided, sloppy, comatose, braindead, lazy, sickeningly underdeveloped “horror” existing in its own category of abysmal early-year releases. I’ve never before felt embarrassed for dragging someone to one of my many horror excursions, yet I found myself apologizing to a friend of mine who I’m sure questioned our relationship the entire ride home. I lost an hour and a half of my night, $12.50 for a ticket, a bit of my sanity, a sliver of my faith in horror, and quite possibly a friend – that’s how bad The Last Exorcism Part II was.