It’s long been said you shouldn’t mess with a good thing, and those looking to capitalize on the success of the recent wave of found footage films should heed that advice.
While 2010’s “The Last Exorcism” didn’t exactly deliver the scary, it was an intriguing concept – a scamming priest who stages an elaborate show when asked to perform exorcisms actually comes up against a real demon possession – but the film buckled under the weight of audiences' hopes it was going to be another “Paranormal Activity.” Still, the under $2 million budgeted film opened in the #2 slot on its release weekend with $20 million and quietly went on to earn over $65 million worldwide. Then, news broke in August that it wasn’t actually “The Last Exorcism” the title suggested as Damien Chazelle, writer/director of the indie flick "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench," was hired to pen the sequel.
Now Deadline has word that “This Beautiful City” and “Small Town Murder Songs” director Ed Gass-Donnelly will be helming the follow-up, with original “The Last Excorcism” star Ashley Bell set to reprise her role as Nell Sweetzer, the one who becomes possessed in the original film. As for the name mysteriously missing from the previous news of this sequel, producer and heavy promoter of the original film Eli Roth is returning to produce under the Arcade Pictures and Strike Entertainment banner along with with Eric Newman, Marc Abraham and Tom Bliss, who were also behind the original. Prestigious StudioCanal is fully financing the pic, with plans to kick off international sales at the European Film Market in Berlin next month. Apparently it’s going to pick up three months after the original story left off, although in typical Roth fashion, the rest of the storyline will remain shrouded in secrecy until release.
Roth cites a planned hard R-rating and recent films with this subject matter being popular as incentive to do the movie, but it looks like somebody saw the box office haul of “The Devil Inside” and got excited. Shooting is planned to begin next month in New Orleans with everything set to be completed by the end of 2012. It's probably a safe bet that after two straight years where exorcism movies opened at number one in January -- "The Rite" and "The Devil Inside," respectively -- this one will be landing in theaters to kick off 2013.
Hopefully this new hard R direction will allow them to explore the far more interesting aspects of the first film, but let's hope it doesn't end with a website URL.