The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Last Exorcism Part II | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Last Exorcism Part II

Sequel to the 2010 found-footage flick.

Directed by: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark

Nell (Bell), the possessed girl seen in the first film, is admitted to a New Orleans home for troubled girls. Her life begins to get on track as she makes friends and takes a job as a chambermaid at a local motel. When she visits a parade in the city with her friends, however, Nell begins to have strange experiences, seemingly followed by a group of masked men and street mimes. Telephones begin to ring when they're not plugged in and voices attempt to speak to Nell through radio sets. It seems Nell may not have escaped her traumatic past.
Last year, for the third installment of the 'Rec' series, the film-makers cast aside the found-footage aesthetic about a half hour into the film. For the sequel to 2010's 'The Last Exorcism', found-footage is discarded completely. It could be taken as a sign that the sub-genre is finally dead, although this Halloween we'll be treated to yet another shaky-cam episode of the 'Paranormal Activity' series. The 2010 film was strangely under-rated, possibly because it had the hated name of Eli Roth attached as producer. With that film, I recall thinking the found-footage format was no more than an unnecessary gimmick as it had a strong enough story to stand on its own. This sequel, however, could badly use a gimmick.
Much of the film revolves around a litany of tired horror cliches, all of which we've seen employed in far more effective ways in much more successful films. Even the New Orleans setting has become a default fallback for American horror films, thanks to the city's historic relationship with the practice of voodoo. Bell admittedly does her best with a Sissy Spacek type "sympathetic yet creepy" performance. Garner, one of America's best young actresses, is wasted in a support role, though it does add to her growing back catalog of movies regarding cults, having appeared in last year's 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' and 'Electrick Children'.
The main problem is that the threat to Nell is never really made concrete. A horror film's success often relies on its villain. 'The Last Exorcism Part II' ultimately collapses due to its lack of a clearly identified one.

Eric Hillis