Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Last Exorcism Part II Review

The Last Exorcism Part II Review
In 2010, "The Last Exorcism" was the little horror film that could. It came completely out of nowhere and was a word-of-mouth sensation. There were many people who detested the film, while others were totally titillated by it. I felt it was a victory for all involved and even the thought of certain scenes still get under my skin. It doesn't compare to "The Exorcist" but its a pretty good title to add to that particular horror sub-genre. If you've seen it, then you know all about that crazy ending, and just how effective it was for a found footage movie. 

If you have not gotten a chance to see the movie yet, I apologize. I would bail on this review until you have seen both films. Because it is completely baffling how far off this sequel missed its mark. To illustrate this misstep, I need to discuss the first film. The general gist was an Evangelist preacher began to make a documentary about how exorcisms aren't real and how he performed them simply because he was good at it. He picks a help letter at random which happened to be for Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell). The preacher goes to Louisiana and performs an exorcism for Nell, but she still shows symptoms of possession. The preacher begins to uncover a mystery which revolves around her family's Pastor, who seems to plan bizarre parties for the children of his church and also leads to the revelation that Nell is pregnant. This leads to an ending which involves a cult in which the family's Pastor is the leader, Nell getting a demonic child cut out of her body, her brother being in the cult. It was a bizarre, bizarre ending, but it worked very well.

This leads us to "The Last Exorcism Part II," something that completely bastardized what came before it. I find it annoying to even call this film by its title, because this isn't the second part of anything. The only remnants of the first film are Nell, her father and how she was possessed. Everything else in this film is so disconnected from the first film that its almost funny. This feels like fan-fiction that somehow got greenlit by the studio.

The basic premise of this sequel is Nell is found and taken to a hospital...she is then transferred to special home for girls to get better. There the demon who possessed her in the first film apparently comes back because he's in love with her...or some stupid business. The problem with the whole movie is that Nell is such a painfully uninteresting and uncompelling character that writing a whole movie around her was a huge mistake. Patrick Fabian who played the Preacher in the first film was such a better character. It doesn't help either that all the talent Ashley Bell brought to the character the first time around is apparently missing this time out.

I hate that we never learn any of the answers to the questions raised in the first film. What makes the "Paranormal Activity" series so much more interesting compared to something like the "Saw" franchise is that each film is different. Every film in the "Paranormal Activity" series at least tries to expand the mythology of its characters, and we learn something different each time out. I was hoping for the same with "The Last Exorcism" but all this sequel wants to be is a collection of cheap thrills with no story. I hate that we will never learn how long Nell's Pastor has been an cult leader or why Nell was chosen by any of this. I hate that we will never know why Nell's brother decided to become a occultist himself. I hate that we will never learn just how Nell got pregnant from the first film and how the evil cult fits into any of it. They were given so many great ideas for a second movie, and used none of them. A big disappointment if you ask me. A cult shows up in this film, could it be the cult from the first film? The script is so underwritten that I had no idea what was going on. You're guess as to who belongs to which cult is as good as mine.

The next big mistake is that this sequel isn't scary. I was so impressed by how much the first film disturbed me, especially for film with no CGI and not much make-up. This sequel seems to embrace CGI to the extreme to no prevail. Gone is the found footage motif for bad special effects. There are several jump scenes that don't work at all. The only tense times are flashbacks from the first film. When the only scary thing about a sequel are scenes from the first film, you know your in trouble. For how creepy Bell was in the first film, I figured she'd be the saving grace for at least a few scares in the sequel. But the filmmakers misuse her talents completely. 

It seems the more I think about this one, the angrier I get. This could have been the second chapter to a great series, but director Ed Gass-Donnelly had other intentions. Those intentions weren't scary, flaccid and boring. I guess I could have called it on this one being a failure after the original directors and the main actor didn't return. But this could have been another surprise, but it was nothing more than a cheap thrill. Eli Roth, shame on you for forking over cash for this turkey. I couldn't believe how laughably bad this movie was, and taken as a whole, it's a crushing disappointment. "The Last Exorcism Part II" is another example of Hollywood cashing in on a title, what a shame.


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