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The Last Exorcism Part ll- review

The Last Exorcism Part ll (2013)
Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly
Starring Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark
Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated PG-13
1.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

I guess the obvious joke is that The Last Exorcism released three years ago should have been titled “The Exorcism Next to the Last” since we now have a part two, and with this sequels obvious ending paving the road for a third entry, the 2010 critical and box office hit really should have been titled “The Exorcism Next to the Exorcism that is Next to the Last”.

Semantics aside, the real joke is the one that the studio bigwigs and their director/co-writer puppet Ed Gass-Donnelly played on it’s movie paying customers.

I really enjoyed Daniel Stamm’s horrifying ‘found footage’ original that explored the Christian psyche by challenging heavier themes of crisis of faith, the supernatural vs. scientific debunking, and the misuse of religious rituals used in the name of God.  By investing honestly into the opposing cultures of faith and science with well written and well played characters, the scares were definitely there.  Stamm’s The Last Exorcism could have reached the upper chalant of its genre if it weren’t for a wildly misguided ending that earned a groan instead of a fright from this viewer.  Besides the ending and a wonderful performance from lead Ashley Bell, the Last Exorcism Part ll pretty much violates everything that was achieved in the first.    

The aforementioned Ashley Bell returns as Nell Sweetzer, the farm girl whose exorcism in the first film that unfortunately for her was, in fact, not her last.  After a lethargically paced opening scene, we find Nell inside the apartment confines of an unsuspecting couple.  She is then placed inside a halfway house for abandoned girls her age, and over the next few months, is counselled that she was just a victim of cult crimes as she tries to make a return to society.  Before too long, Nell is revisited by the returning demon Abalam who has plans for her.    

Bad movies don’t often piss me off all that often, but this one sure did.  Even though the theater experienced Gass-Donnelly takes a little bit too much of a snail’s pace trying to re-establish Nell’s character, he’s still letting that character grow.  That is until halfway through the film when the studio must have called down and told him to go into cliched demon horror movie mode.  There is such an abrupt halt from when the film’s interest and creepiness vanishes into thin air and is replaced by poorly attempted scare tactics, that includes a amateurish horror score from Michael Wandmacher which rivals his previous work from From Justin to Kelly; all that is finally washed down with a third act that loses all credibility and patience.  

It’s a shame because of the asset they have in the young actress Ashley Bell.  Bell proves to be so much more than a possessed cirque du soleil performer.  She brings so much to a character that was socially closed off thats now seeing the outside world for the first time while at the same time struggling with her faith and the horrors of her past.  Bell has an infectious almost angelic smile with a nervous laugh that lightens the screen one moment and an ability with voice and contorted body to darken it the next.  Bell reminds me of a young Sissy Spacek in Carrie.  It’s an obvious comparison maybe, but it’s just too bad that those two films are so far off.  

What a waste of a good franchise.

What a waste of a good “this”.  

Luke 10:19

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