Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

Creepy atmospherics don't compensate for the lack of genuine scares in this unimpressive follow-up.

March 1, 2013

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372368-Last_Exorcism_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Instantly rendering the title of its first installment moot, The Last Exorcism Part II proves yet again that you can’t keep a good demon down. Yes, Abalam is back to torture Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), the innocent, deeply religious young woman who went through both spiritual and physical contortions in the 2010 breakout hit.

After a brief recap featuring scenes from the original film, Nell—who somehow survived its fiery climax—is seen terrorizing a young couple in their home, after which she is promptly whisked off to a New Orleans halfway house for troubled girls. There, she’s introduced to such joys as hard-rock music on an iPod, the exotic spectacle of Mardi Gras, and a burgeoning attraction to a nice young man who returns her interest.

But it isn’t long before creepy things begin happening, including ominous visits from her father’s ghost, warning her that she’s in danger; her newfound friends suddenly being possessed by a vengeful spirit; and an unsettling encounter with a stranger in a church that’s followed by an attack by suicidal birds. (That last scene, incidentally, represents the second such episode in a horror film in a week, following quickly on the heels of Dark Skies.)

Forgoing the faux found-footage technique that the original employed, this sequel takes a more classical narrative approach. Unfortunately, while director/co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly displays an admirable restraint in his general eschewing of gratuitous gore, quick editing and flashy visuals, the results have a generally soporific feel. Although there are several moments that are undeniably creepy, such as Nell’s encounter with a motionless mime or her experiencing an episode of airborne solo sexual ecstasy, the general tedium is only alleviated by the obligatory shock scares for which the sound mixer has dutifully cranked up the volume to 11.

It all culminates in—what else?—another exorcism, this time of the voodoo variety. But the scene barely registers, and the explosive finale featuring unimpressive CGI fire effects is a further letdown.

Reprising her role, Bell again is the film’s chief asset, delivering a memorable, unsettling performance that easily can be compared to Sissy Spacek’s Carrie. Vividly conveying her character’s complex emotions with a minimum of histrionics, she actually comes across as a real person, unlike so many glam horror-film heroines who look like they’ve just stepped out of a photo shoot. Although the actress doesn’t perform nearly as many of the memorable physical contortions as she did in the first film, she remains a vital presence throughout and clearly is headed for bigger and better things.

Of course, before that she might be headed to a third installment of this series, the seeds of which are planted in an open-ended climax demonstrating that this edition should have probably been titled The Penultimate Exorcism.
The Hollywood Reporter



Film Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

Creepy atmospherics don't compensate for the lack of genuine scares in this unimpressive follow-up.

March 1, 2013

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372368-Last_Exorcism_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Instantly rendering the title of its first installment moot, The Last Exorcism Part II proves yet again that you can’t keep a good demon down. Yes, Abalam is back to torture Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), the innocent, deeply religious young woman who went through both spiritual and physical contortions in the 2010 breakout hit.

After a brief recap featuring scenes from the original film, Nell—who somehow survived its fiery climax—is seen terrorizing a young couple in their home, after which she is promptly whisked off to a New Orleans halfway house for troubled girls. There, she’s introduced to such joys as hard-rock music on an iPod, the exotic spectacle of Mardi Gras, and a burgeoning attraction to a nice young man who returns her interest.

But it isn’t long before creepy things begin happening, including ominous visits from her father’s ghost, warning her that she’s in danger; her newfound friends suddenly being possessed by a vengeful spirit; and an unsettling encounter with a stranger in a church that’s followed by an attack by suicidal birds. (That last scene, incidentally, represents the second such episode in a horror film in a week, following quickly on the heels of Dark Skies.)

Forgoing the faux found-footage technique that the original employed, this sequel takes a more classical narrative approach. Unfortunately, while director/co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly displays an admirable restraint in his general eschewing of gratuitous gore, quick editing and flashy visuals, the results have a generally soporific feel. Although there are several moments that are undeniably creepy, such as Nell’s encounter with a motionless mime or her experiencing an episode of airborne solo sexual ecstasy, the general tedium is only alleviated by the obligatory shock scares for which the sound mixer has dutifully cranked up the volume to 11.

It all culminates in—what else?—another exorcism, this time of the voodoo variety. But the scene barely registers, and the explosive finale featuring unimpressive CGI fire effects is a further letdown.

Reprising her role, Bell again is the film’s chief asset, delivering a memorable, unsettling performance that easily can be compared to Sissy Spacek’s Carrie. Vividly conveying her character’s complex emotions with a minimum of histrionics, she actually comes across as a real person, unlike so many glam horror-film heroines who look like they’ve just stepped out of a photo shoot. Although the actress doesn’t perform nearly as many of the memorable physical contortions as she did in the first film, she remains a vital presence throughout and clearly is headed for bigger and better things.

Of course, before that she might be headed to a third installment of this series, the seeds of which are planted in an open-ended climax demonstrating that this edition should have probably been titled The Penultimate Exorcism.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Ouija
Film Review: Ouija

Skip the movie, play the game. On second thought, skip the game, too. More »

The Best of Me
Film Review: The Best of Me

Fans of Lifetime TV movies–and previous adaptations of books by Nicholas Sparks–will derive sentimental satisfaction from this handsomely mounted, ultimately hokey romance. For anyone else, it’s an all-too-typical adaptation of a book by Nicholas Sparks. More »

The Book of Life
Film Review: The Book of Life

This animated feature is tricky to get into, but soon enough becomes a colorful piñata spreading goodies hither and yon. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here