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Last Exorcism Part II, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Nimble Little Jinx, Isn't She?"
1 stars

As I have stated here numerous times in the past, movies involving demonic possession and exorcisms have, for whatever reason, never done much for me--even an acknowledged classic like "The Exorcist" has always struck me as little more than a pretentious big-budget exploitation film that was more interested in pushing easy emotional buttons than forcing viewers to deal with real and difficult questions involving notion of good, evil and faith. (Save your incredulous insults as I have heard them all before and then some.) On the other hand, I do have a bit of a soft spot for the often-demented sequels that such films have occasionally inspired--I have always found the unjustly maligned "Exorcist II: The Heretic" to be one of the most splendidly trippy cinematic freak-outs ever perpetrated by a major studio and I vastly prefer the weirdness of "Amityville II: The Possession"--a film so wildly scuzzy and depraved, thanks to subplots involving incest, spousal and child abuse and the like, that the stuff involving demonic possession actually feels like an afterthought--to the banal idiocies of the original "Amityville Horror."

On that admittedly slim and arcane basis, I have to admit that I was sort of looking forward to "The Last Exorcism Part II," the sequel to the surprise 2009 horror hit, to see what oddities it had to offer. Considering the fact that the original ended in a pretty conclusive manner--even the title seemed to preclude the chance of further installments--I was curious to see what bizarre machinations the filmmakers would undergo in order to jump-start the story. To be sure, it is strange all right but there is good strange (such as the kind found in the current "Stoker") and asinine strange and this one almost immediately goes for the latter approach. The end result is a real mess--not just a bad movie but pretty much a rip-off to boot--and if it is remembered at all in the annals of horror history, it will be due to its possessing (no pun intended) one of the most hilariously idiotic titles of all time.

For those of you who don't recall the original film--and I must confess that I needed to look more than a few things up so as to fill in a number of blanks--it was a found-footage narrative that purported to be the footage shot by a documentary crew following around a phony exorcist who decided to expose the tricks of his trade with the unwitting help of a random person claiming to be suffering from demonic possession. Unfortunately for him, the recipient of his faux-assistance, sweet-faced backwoods girl Nell (Ashley Bell), turned out to really have something evil brewing inside of her and before you could say "Dogs and cats living together," she was giving birth to some unholy creature in a finale that is second only to the climax of "The Devil Inside" in terms of sheer inanity. Aside from that dumb-ass conclusion--which pretty much made hash of everything that came before it--it was a mostly okay film that offered a rare intelligent deployment of the found-footage gimmick (though not intelligent enough to explain who put said footage together) and a good and sympathetic performance from the frighteningly flexible Bell. For those of you scoring it home, there is a very good chance that if I wind reusing such words and phrases as "mostly okay," "intelligent," "good," "sympathetic" and "conclusion," it will be nothing more than coincidence.

Eschewing the found-footage format for a more straightforward narrative approach, "The Last Exorcism Part II" picks up the story pretty much exactly where the previous one left off--following a quick recap of the earlier events--with Nell, like much of the prospective audience, turning up suddenly and with no memory of the earlier events. After a few months in the hospital, she makes remarkable progress and is eventually sent off to New Orleans to live in a halfway house for troubled young women. While there, she makes friends, gets a job in a local motel and even attracts the attention of potential suitor Chris (Spencer Treat Clark). Before long, inevitably, things start going south for her via inexplicable events and bizarre dreams that straddle the line between erotic fantasy and horrific nightmare. It transpires that Albalam, the demon that previously possessed her (and presumably a cousin of Bob Loblow), just doesn't know how to quit Nell and wants her back again because it apparently loves her. It all leads, as such things often do, to a climactic exorcism attempt, though this one is so incompetent in nature--a live chicken plays a key role in the proceedings and the doofus in charge is ready to kill Nell the minute that she displays the slightest bit of demonic behavior--that even the eminent paranormal authority Peter Venkman might question its merits.

It would be foolish to go into a movie entitled "The Last Exorcism Part II" expecting to see some kind of masterpiece but one would at least hope that the filmmakers would be good enough to at least put something vaguely resembling what scholars might refer to as "an effort." That is decidedly not the case here as the entire thing has been put together so haphazardly that it feels as if the screenwriters forgot to actually write the thing until the night before the script was due. Instead of slowly and effectively conjuring up a genuine sense of dread and menace, the film prefers to deliver endless variations of the old "BOOM" trick in which someone or something suddenly jumps into the frame while the soundtrack blasts some form of noise. When that fails, which is always, it resorts to flat-out stealing bits from other, better films--in the most incompetent example of this, the filmmakers try to recreate the walking home scene from "Carrie" but do so in such a shamefully chintzy way that even Uwe Boll might have demanded reshoots. And when that gambit fails, the film doesn't even bother to try anymore. In fact, there are long stretches, following Nell as she does her motel work and wanders the streets with her girlfriends while encountering other weirdos, where it feels more like it is trying to be a Harmony Korine film--a terrifying thought, perhaps, but not the right kind of terrifying.

Then there is the dialogue. . .oh boy, there is the dialogue. I will merely quote a few of my favorite examples while assuring that there are plenty more where that came from of a similar quality.

"So, are you from a cult in the woods or something?"

"No boys. I was pregnant before--at least I thought I was. . ."

"If he seduces you, all is lost."

"In a week, we'll probably all be dead!"

"The chicken won't feel a thing."

The hell of it--literally in this case--is that there are a couple of glimmers here and there that suggest the movie that "The Last Exorcism Part II" might have been before being cruelly snatched away. The idea of following someone trying to fit back in with "normal" society after having been kept away for so long in such a rigidly controlled environment is intriguing--the acclaimed drama "Martha Marcy May Marlene" explored such a conceit with startling effectiveness--and could have been explored in much more depth and detail. Likewise, it flirts with the idea of Nell's lingering memories of demonic possession being helplessly intertwined with the emergence of her long-delayed sexual maturation in ways that could have been provocative had they been placed in the right hands. Even though she has much less to do here than in the previous film, Ashley Bell demonstrates enough strength as an actress to indicate that she could have tackled trickier material like this. Alas, the movie quickly dumps these ideas for such ill-advised conceits as taking a meta-movie twist by having Nell become an internet sensation when footage of her possession (taken from the first film) somehow hits the Internet. Then again, to give this movie credit, when I went into the theater, I was not expecting an homage to the equally ill-advised "Blair Witch 2."

Lacking the cleverness and élan of its title, "The Last Exorcism Part II" is complete crap that somehow manages to give idiotic demonic possession films a bad name. It exists for one reason and one reason only--to sucker enough people who liked the original to drop $10 bucks on it during its opening weekend to put it into profit before the fanboy word-of-mouth gets around. This is as creatively bankrupt as a movie can get while still managing to get an image on the screen and while enough paying customers may get lured into the fray to earn it a quick profit, the artistic scorched-earth policy it enacts pretty much ensures that it will receive such a hostile reaction that we will probably never see the likes of "The Last Exorcism Part III," although it would be worth it for the title alone. Unfortunately, if it does well enough, it could help inspire some greedy dope to launch "The Devil Inside Part II" into production, a notion far more frightening than anything on display here.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24559&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/01/13 16:58:51
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User Comments

6/18/13 Pierre Mosbey Terrible! Horrible plot and dull performances. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  01-Mar-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jun-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Mar-2013
  DVD: 18-Jun-2013




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