Ashley Bell as Nell. Click on the 'Play' button above to watch the trailer for The Last Exorcism Part 2.
July 29, 2013
The first Last Exorcism - boy, that is weird to say - is a truly, unexpectedly amusing and scary movie, with real surprises and a very dark sense of humour. It's a found-footage feature in which a retiring priest invites a documentary crew to record his final ever faked exorcism; a scam his family had been running for decades. Here's the crinkle: this time around, the subject really is possessed by a demon. Poor, kindly, naive country girl Nell, played by the ridiculously bendy Ashley Bell, gets run through the wringer, while the documentarians find themselves cornered by an evil cult. I highly recommend it.
I also recommend director Ed Gass-Donnelly's Small Town Murder Songs, an offbeat crime thriller cut from the same cloth as Fargo (both of which star the always unsettling Peter Stormare). He steps in to helm The Last Exorcism Part 2, taking over from Daniel Stamm and jettisoning the 'found footage' style in the process. If you enjoy both The Last Exorcism and Small Town Murder Songs - and perhaps only then - can I recommend this unnecessary sequel, a fairly disappointing follow-up, to both. Gone is the wicked sense of humour, from both. Gone are the eerie atmospherics, of both.
When The Last Exorcism Part 2 opens, an abandoned Nell finds herself in a home for troubled girls in New Orleans, struggling to piece her life back together. Ashley Bell remains as Nell and she remains fantastic as the tormented, religious girl trying to carry on her existence as a polite teenager, despite something evil and demonic growing inside of her. Some moments ring false, however. It was a bad idea to have her listen to heavy metal music for the first time here, for instance. As we learnt from Garden State, it is difficult to convey a life-changing epiphany with headphones on.
Gass-Donnelly does have a few tricks up his sleeves. Two scenes come to mind that show off some flair and hint towards a stylistically interesting and somewhat unique horror flick. Those shots come in, quite literally, the last two minutes. Before that, there's a lot of jump scares that don't inspire jumps, voodoo hoodoo, and a not-at-all frightening, umm, what do you call those guys who paint themselves silver and then stand still like statues? This has one of those. A threatening one. So, if that sounds up your alley...
The Last Exorcism Part 2 arrives on Quickflix July 31, 2013.