The Last Exorcism Part II – Review
One of the biggest trends in horror for the past decade or so is the found footage sub-genre and the supernatural sub-genre. It wouldn’t be long before both were combined. Although ‘The Last Exorcism’ is by no means the proprietor of merging both these sub-genres, I will argue that it is an effective entry into it, although you could specify that it technically is not ‘found’ footage, it is however shot in a documentary style, so we shall refer it to a found footage film. The level of enjoyment I get out of ‘The Last Exorcism’ compared to a film like ‘Paranormal Activity’ would have to be measured on a scale of eating ice cream and having a wasp sting your eyeball, although it does show graphic violence, it also leaves a lot to the imagination.
If found footage is done correctly, it can be a very effective way of shooting a film. I believe that ‘The Last Exorcism’ managed to achieve this quite successfully. Here’s a little confession moment for you all right here, I find that the scariest film of all time (personally) is ‘The Blair Witch Project’ because of this and the fact that I am a firm believer of less is more. There’s just something about that film that makes me uneasy and on edge constantly, but I digress, we’ll explore Blair Witch another time in-depth. I found the ending to ‘The Last Exorcism’ to be just as effective as the one in ‘The Blair Witch’ because of this, however, I will call out that the final shot of the film is the exact same as the one in Blair Witch. Also, we had Eli Roth producing the film and I generally like whatever he puts his name to.
So naturally when a sequel to this film was announced, ironically titled ‘The Last Exorcism Part II’, something with Roth himself has joked about, I was both pumped and slightly concerned. A lot of my concerned feelings came from the fact that the sequel abandons the found footage format, creating a sort of inconsistency between both films, I mean we all saw what a disaster ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ was when it tried to change things up. I have to say that while I didn’t think the film was as bad as people are making it out to be, it did not feel like a sequel to its predecessor.
One of the most appealing aspects about the film is that it spends the most of the film furthering the characterisation of Nell. Ashley Bell’s performance in ‘The Last Exorcism’; she was able to be both sympathetic and frightening, giving a fantastic transition from innocent farm girl to horrific demon. Fun fact, she did all of that contortion herself, that’s some true commitment to the role! I would put her on the same level as some of the great females of the genre, giving us a possession role as effective as Linda Blair. She is the most redeeming aspect about this sequel by far and once again delivers a stellar performance despite the awkward material that she has to work with.
The problem with this film is that it knows it really has nowhere else to take this story; therefore it becomes another cookie cutter possession story with constant jump scares and paranoia sequences. I loved the ambiguous ending of the original film and although ‘The Last Exorcism II’ picks up the moment its predecessor left off, it doesn’t even expand upon the moments that transpired before it, you know, when *SPOILER* a raging inferno caused by a bunch of cultists managed to give birth to what is basically the Anti-Christ…are we just going to ignore that? Okay. *END OF SPOILER* Instead we jump to Nell winding up in someone’s bedroom, carted off to a wayward home and the demon that possessed her trying to take her over…again! Been here, done that guys.
There’s not much foreplay between the film and the audience either, there are instances where characters with ulterior motives let their true colours show far too early. As I mentioned, most of the entirety of the film is jump scares without much tension building, although the first film did have its share of jump moments, I felt it managed to contain a certain degree of apprehension throughout the last two thirds.
My main problem with this film is the final act however, which just gets to a ridiculous level and pretty much derails, hitting a sea of people in its carnage. It’s not exactly over the top like some other horror sequels conclude their plot, but it’s a complete lack of consistency within characterisation and super cheesy with a choice of song that plays while bad CG flames begin to pop up everywhere.
The only aspects of the film that I particularly liked were the New Orleans setting and the return of Ashley Bell. That being said, this film feels like a completely different series, not a sequel, and it would probably work better if it was another stand alone possession horror film. I know that I’ve compared it to the original quite a number of times in this review, but that’s all I really can do for this sequel because it’s quite soulless and offers nothing new to the table. I think that the possession sub-genre of film which has been over exploited the past few years has run its course; it’s time for something different.
To sum it all up, the original ‘The Last Exorcism’ really should have been the first and last for this series.
– Jozef Hamilton
Follow Jozef on Twitter: @TheEvilBread
TO CELEBRATE THE RELEASE OF THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2, WE ARE GIVING AWAY ‘THE LAST EXORCISM’ ON DVD. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN WIN IT.