June 13, 2013

New Disc Review: THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (Blu-Ray/Ultraviolet)

Starring Ashley Bell, Julia Gerner, Spencer Treat Clark, Muse Watson, Louis Herthum. Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly. (2013, 89 min).

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Turns out the previous exorcism wasn't the last one after all, which is probably to be expected, since the original raked in a ton of cash on a miniscule budget. I don't think too many people were pining for a sequel, but oxymoronic title notwithstanding, The Last Exorcism Part II is a better film than it had a right to be.

Ashley Bell returns as Nell, living in a wayward teen shelter while she recovers from her possession & exorcism. She has no memory of what happened at first, but soon bizarre things once again start happening...horrific dreams, hallucinations of her dead father, masked strangers watching from afar. Pretty soon, he finds she cannot entirely trust all of her new acquaintances either, some of whom are in league with the cult from the first film.

It turns out that nasty ol' demon, Abalam, still has the hots for Nell and hasn't been entirely exorcised from her body. A strange little group called the Order of the Right come to her aid, ominously informing her Abalam is trying to seduce her, because she must willingly give herself to him. If that happens, it will bring about the end of the world.

Constipation sucks.
This is standard horror stuff. For the most part, director/co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly seems comfortable earning his paycheck by feeding undemanding fans (most of whom were not even born when The Exorcist came out) the usual menu of possession cliches (levitation, inexplicable bleeding, cryptic markings, etc.). But The Last Exorcism Part II does have some things going for it which are worth checking out. First, Ashley Bell is once-again outstanding in the lead role. She reminds me of Sissy Spacek in Carrie, vulnerable yet menacing. Second, after a rather slow start, the film picks up steam during the third act, culminating in an exciting climax and wickedly-amusing  resolution.

But most importantly, unlike the original Last Exorcism, this one is not presented as found footage, a truly-obnoxious gimmick which became cliche roughly ten minutes after every light-in-the-wallet wannabe filmmaker saw The Blair Witch Project. This change might bother some fans of the first film, but I appreciated the attempt at doing something different with the material, even if the results still aren't all that original.

As a sequel no one really asked for, The Last Exorcism Part II isn't bad at all. It doesn't offer a lot of surprises, isn't really all that scary and sure as hell won't make anyone forget The Exorcist, but it certainly didn't deserve the critical lambasting it got during its theatrical release.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Ed Gass-Donnelly and producer Eli Roth; Featurettes: Shooting in New Orleans, Hair Salon Scare (which is kind of funny), Nell's Story.

(Out of 5)

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