"The Last Exorcism Part II" is a title that screams, "We were not expecting to make a sequel." But here we are.
The original film, a found-footage horror flick about a disillusioned charlatan priest performing fake exorcisms on New Orleans believers, was surprisingly good until it had to start wrapping up its mystery and fumbled together some clumsy answers (something about cults and a demon named Abalam, which sounds more like a sleep aid than a monstrous hellspawn).
I guess it wasnâ€™t the last exorcism after all, as now there's a sequel, which unfortunately delivers none of cleverness but all of the cheap jump scares youâ€™d expect from a C-grade horror follow-up. Iâ€™ll give "The Last Exorcism Part II" this: At least they killed off the found footage gimmick between films, if only to be replaced by other elements equally deserving of death.
Soon after the events of the first movie, the once possessed Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is rehabilitating from her time with the devil at a home for girls in New Orleans. Sheâ€™s close to getting a normal life; sheâ€™s made a friend at the home (Julia Garner), snagged a job at a local motel and even caught the eye of an awkward co-worker (Spencer Treat Clark).
Unfortunately, she also seems to have caught the eye of some strange individuals meandering around The Big Easy, including a creepy human statue (or at least creepier than usual). It turns out the demon hasnâ€™t forgotten about Nell and has even fallen in love with our poor heroine. Yep, it seems the devil thought he and Nell had a connection back at the Sweetzerâ€™s old backwoods farm and is now stalking Nell â€“ with the help of his creepy cult pals â€“ in the hopes of convincing her that she belongs with him. Jeez Abalam, just listen to some Taylor Swift and Adele, and get over it.
Â "The Last Exorcism Part II" serves as Canadian director Ed Gass-Donnellyâ€™s first mainstream feature, and itâ€™s a startling debut. By that, I mean that Gass-Donnelly seemingly has more interest in startling his audience rather than actually scaring them. Every scare is an overdone clichĂ© or a cheap jump, including an accidental homage to the dumb dog that was the shameful highlight of last yearâ€™s "The Devil Inside."
It takes no real skill to startle an audience â€“ a quick jolt of movement accompanied by a loud banging on the soundtrack is really all it takes â€“ so itâ€™s disappointing Gass-Donnelly went the clichĂ© route with his scare tactics. Heâ€™s actually not a bad director â€“ itâ€™s a nicely, calmly shot film with some mildly creepy moments â€“ but when it comes to actually scaring or unsettling people, "The Last Exorcism Part II" falls on its screaming, demon-possessed face.
Besides the laughable title, the lone element brought over from the first film is its star actress, Ashley Bell. While she was mainly just used for her flexibility and creepy blank stares in the previous film, Bell has the spotlight now. She owns it, creating a fascinatingly fragile horror heroine.
Itâ€™s too bad the remarkably clumsy and unnatural script, written by Gass-Donnelly and Damien Chazelle, gives her minimal support. The dialogue between Nell and her friends at the girls house sounds like it was written by someone who has never heard a group of women converse before. Itâ€™s a lot of giggly gossip and cattiness with no trace of actual humanity.
Thereâ€™s a hint of a moral dilemma involving whether or not Nell will choose the devil over being a normal person (tough decision), but itâ€™s barely developed enough to qualify as interesting. The script is more concerned with scenes where an overzealous fan of exorcisms confronts Nell and learns not to bother a demonâ€™s crush. The results are more ridiculous and hilarious than tense or moody.
After the film reaches its absurd climax, complete with CGI fire and blaring rock music (parents in the â€™50s were right; rock is the music of the devil!), "The Last Exorcism Part II" loses much of the goodwill Bellâ€™s compelling performance and Gass-Donnellyâ€™s composed direction earned. I like those components, but hopefully the movie holds true to its titleâ€™s promise, and this will be the last we see of this limp wannabe horror franchise.Â
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published May 30, 2016
The Tony-winning musical "Kinky Boots" - coming to the Marcus Center starting Tuesday night - is a bold, bright tale of family, acceptance and fabulousness. For actor J. Harrison Ghee, however, it's a story that goes beyond just the stage.
Published May 28, 2016
Thanks to a duo of Milwaukee dub reggae enthusiasts, dub music has found a very comfortable spot in the Milwaukee music scene - in particular at the Nomad World Pub, where, in less than a year's time, the two have helped turn Living Dub into a sensation.
Published May 26, 2016
Indeed, the "Saved by the Bell" child star and now Port Washington resident Dustin Diamond was taken back into custody yesterday afternoon by the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office, detained on a "probation violation."
Published May 26, 2016
Get ready for an overload of adorable, as the Milwaukee County Zoo introduced its newest baby giraffe, named Zola - a word of African origin meaning "to love" - to the world.
Published May 26, 2016
Milwaukee Film announced that it will host the world premiere of "Milwaukee 53206," a documentary chronicling the lives of those who live in the 53206 zip code, which has the highest rate of incarceration for African American males in the country.
Published May 24, 2016
A UWM graduation video featuring new grads dancing around Milwaukee to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling" has racked up a ton of views - one of which must've been JT himself, as he took to Twitter to congratulate the new graduates.
Published May 22, 2016
According to Greg Mclean, "The Darkness" comes from a true story passed along to him first-hand. Judging by the results, maybe someone was just recalling the plot of "Poltergeist" to him. Or an infinite number of scarier haunted house tales from before.
Published May 18, 2016
Milwaukee native Bay Dariz's plan was to become a star musician, then turn into a movie mogul. The stage star part didn't quite happen, but no bother; he's already jumped to movie producer status with his feature film debut "Welcome to Happiness."
Published May 18, 2016
Save for a visit from a street-corner preacher, a trip to the bus stop rarely qualifies as a religious experience. However, those taking the bus to or from the Cathedral Square stop on the corner of Wells and Jackson might sense a little extra spirit.
Published May 17, 2016
While it was called "a dialogue," Tuesday's hour-long conversation between State Rep. Dale Kooyenga and MTEA executive director Lauren Baker, hosted by Marquette University's Eckstein Hall, sure resembled a debate - an often politely testy one.