Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big  Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: ‘The Last Exorcism Part II’ Is A Cruddy, Boring & Exhausting Horror

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist March 1, 2013 at 1:12PM

2010’s “The Last Exorcism” was a mildly successful found-footage horror movie about a huckster exorcist (played memorably by hey-it’s-that-guy character actor Patrick Fabian) who accidentally stumbles upon an actual possession while being followed around by an amateur documentary film crew. It was also, at least initially, metaphorically rich, with the demonic activity standing in for domestic abuse and the violence often bred by small-minded, backwoods religious fervor. Of course, all that nuance was jettisoned in the last ten minutes, when the possessed young girl (Ashley Bell) gave birth to what appeared to be a small gremlin or possibly the young version of Hellboy. In the wholly unnecessary “The Last Exorcism Part II,” the young girl has survived the demon-birth (or whatever) and is trying to reacclimate to society. Unfortunately, the sequel follows the original too closely, so that any attempt at substantial dimension is undone in favor of hoary horror movie tropes.
0
The Last Exorcism, Part II (skip)

2010’s “The Last Exorcism” was a mildly successful found-footage horror movie about a huckster exorcist (played memorably by hey-it’s-that-guy character actor Patrick Fabian) who accidentally stumbles upon an actual possession while being followed around by an amateur documentary film crew. It was also, at least initially, metaphorically rich, with the demonic activity standing in for domestic abuse and the violence often bred by small-minded, backwoods religious fervor. Of course, all that nuance was jettisoned in the last ten minutes, when the possessed young girl (Ashley Bell) gave birth to what appeared to be a small gremlin or possibly the young version of Hellboy. In the wholly unnecessary “The Last Exorcism Part II,” the young girl has survived the demon-birth (or whatever) and is trying to reacclimate to society. Unfortunately, the sequel follows the original too closely, so that any attempt at substantial dimension is undone in favor of hoary horror movie tropes.

The Last Exorcism Part II

After a brief recap of the events of the first film – a choppily edited montage that basically establishes that the south is full of demons, caricatures and ancient ruins – the new movie starts in earnest, with a cheap scare set at some undisclosed location in New Orleans. From there, possession survivor Nell (Bell) is then relocated into a kind of halfway home full of similarly traumatized young women, with everyone reiterating that the horrible backwoods cult and crazy demon business was all a figment of her imagination.

This set-up in and of itself is actually pretty great. Anytime you get a group of women together in a horror movie setting, whether it’s the gym shower in “Carrie” or the ballet school in “Suspiria” or the mental health ward in “Ginger Snaps Back” (which, along with John Carpenter’s ill-fated “The Ward” is probably the movie’s closest cousin), good things will most likely come of it. There’s an innate power to the scenario on a narrative and metaphoric level, and the historic parallels to unnaturally powerful women being labeled as witches is easy to both grasp and apply. “The Last Exorcism Part II” becomes even more promising when they have young Nell working at a hotel as a maid, opening up the film to even more possibilities, including folding in elements of the “haunted hotel” sub-genre popularized by pictures like “Vacancy” and “Psycho.”

The Last Exorcism Part II

There are hints early on in the film, when it looks like director Ed Gass-Donnelly (who co-wrote the screenplay with Damien Chazelle – both of whom are new to the “franchise”) might be digging a little bit deeper. There are several moments when Nell is plagued with nightmares that are paradoxically both horrific and sexual, moaning in her sleep either from orgasmic pleasure or terrible pain, that suggest that the movie will be an exploration of a young girl’s sexual awakening following a claustrophobic religious upbringing. There’s also another great scene where, while at her job at the hotel, she listens to a couple having sex, her face pressed up against the wall in a kind of anguished ecstasy. Both moments have an innate power but are poorly photographed and hampered by a restrictive PG-13 rating, since, of course, violent demonic possession is okay but a young woman exploring her sexuality is not.

But these moments are fleetingly brief and never elaborated on, probably due to the innate lack of imagination on the filmmakers’ part (sequences are lifted wholesale from things like “The Omen” without a strong understanding of why the original sequences worked so well). The movie skates along atop a series of poorly executed jump scares that are never actually scary (someone fell asleep in our midnight screening shortly after the movie started, and his snores were oftentimes louder than the blaring cues on the soundtrack), until it devolves into utter lunacy. All of the promise that the first part of the movie sets up is squandered. Instead, of course, there are some eerie encounters with creepy guys in Mardi Gras masks, some lecherous preachers, and a vague attempt at turning the whole production into a kind of demonic '70s paranoid thriller.

The Last Exorcism Part 2

No attempt at suspense or horror really works, especially when they try to turn Nell’s sweet-faced roomie (Julia Garner) into an agent of evil. So, of course, it’s back to the possessed drawing board, and a climax that clumsily folds in (another) possession. Nell has learned from the voodoo witch orderly that cleaned her up at the hospital that the devil who made her give birth to Hellboy, Jr. isn’t done with her yet – he wants to get back up in there because (get this) he’s “in love with her.” So a hastily organized exorcism is set up, with an actual nurse and an exorcist with tattoos that wouldn’t have been out of place on Keanu Reeves’ forearms in “Constantine,” and all manner of religious nonsense (both Catholic and voodoo) is trotted out in truly unspectacular fashion, along with every exorcism cliche you can think of (as long as it doesn’t push it into the R-rated realm). It’s both exhausting and totally boring.

The best thing you can say about “The Last Exorcism Part II,” is that it didn’t choose to replicate the original’s found-footage aesthetic. If they had abandoned the original conceit and added some visual oomph, along with enriching the metaphoric possibilities, then “The Last Exorcism Part II” could at least have been a passable midnight movie. Instead, it’s the kind of garbage that does a disservice to the fearless possibilities of the horror genre and its knack for sly social commentary. At least there’s no third act goblin in this one. [D]   

This article is related to: The Last Exorcism Part II, Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Ed Gass-Donnelly, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates