The Last Exorcism Part II

Directed By: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, Muse Watson, and Louis Herthum

When it comes to horror movies nowadays, I'm at my wit's end.  They all just suck.  Dark Skies, Texas Chainsaw, and Paranormal Activity 4 are all potent examples of the genre's decline in recent years.  The good news is that we've had fewer horror movies in recent months. The bad news is the downward spiral of this genre continues.  This weekend's The Last Exorcism Part II is definitely emblematic of this sad reality.

The film picks up exactly where The Last Exorcism left off.  After terrorizing an unsuspecting couple, Nell (Ashley Bell) is found in the woods.  When picked up and brought back into normal society by Frank Merle (Muse Watson), Nell is naturally fearful that her demon Abalam will return.  Frank, who takes her into his home for troubled girls, believes in evil but not evil spirits.  As such, he convinces Nell to believe that Abalam isn't real. 

Foolishly believing Abalam doesn't exist, Nell begins her new life in New Orleans.  She befriends the other girls staying at Frank's house, particularly Gwen (Julia Garner).  She gets a job working at a motel as a maid.  She even finds a little young love with fellow co-worker Chris (Spencer Treat Clark).  All of this is fine and dandy, but there's just one problem.  Abalam is real, and he's coming for Nell.  If he seduces her, this nasty demon will once again realize his full power and bring a reign of terror down upon the world,

There's an element of truth that makes exorcism movies so scary.  As a Christian, I definitely believe that demons exist.  I can deal with ghosts, undead zombies, and killers that haunt our dreams, but there's something inherently terrifying about demons because I do believe that they’re real.  Apparently, no niche genre is safe from the current trends in the horror genre because The Last Exorcism Part II sucks.  It's a watered-down exorcism movie by all standards.  We've got a pointless plot, cheap thrills, and bland characters.  That's not what this exorcism movie should be about.  Exorcism movies should be about ratcheting up the terror and taking us to places that other horror films can’t go.

The storyline in The Last Exorcism Part II comes full circle in a meandering, incoherent way.  The film lacks any strong writing, and every major plot point feels tangential.  Nell's reign of terror on an unsuspecting couple, her relationship with Chris, and especially her eventful encounter with the religious woman Cecile (Tarra Riggs) all embody this.  Each of these plot developments feels forced and disconnected.  They're necessary events to push the film along, but these plot points are not woven well into the story.  Ultimately, all these disjointed storylines lead to Nell being possessed by Abalam.  There's not much of a point to that because that's exactly how the film started.  All in all, you'll have wasted 90 minutes of your life watching this flick.

Without the plot, there are certainly fewer thrills in The Last Exorcism Part II.  Director Ed Gass-Donnelly frequently relies on blasting music to try and scare his audience as opposed to doing something that's genuinely terrifying.  That's really unfortunate given that this is an exorcism flick.  There's so much that he could have potentially done.  Instead, his lead demon is too busy pleasuring Ashley Bell's Nell in her sleep to actually do some scary stuff on screen.  What we're left with is a film full of half-assed attempts at building fear.  Cheap thrills cannot substitute for the real thing.

It's needless to say that the actors turn in some terrible performances.  Ashley Bell lets her character Nell embody stupidity when she's supposed to be the only smart person on camera, the only one who actually knows that Abalam is real. Muse Watson brings no paternal qualities to the film as Frank Merle.  As the man who takes Nell into his home after finding her in the woods, his character should be far more sympathetic to her plight.  Instead, Watson offers a rather hard-nosed version of his character.  As Gwen and Chris respectively, Julia Garner and Spencer Treat Clark are utterly boring and serve no purpose whatsoever on screen.

The Last Exorcism Part II is a formulaic horror movie devoid of any real frights.  Rife with poor storytelling, cheap thrills, and bad acting, this film makes me want to grab a drink just thinking about the sad fact that I sat through it.  With that in mind, I know you'll need some hard liquor to get through it.  The Last Exorcism Part II gets a wasted rating.  Ask for some mystery shots at the bar if you dare see this flick.  In some small way, this may make up for the suspense that the movie lacks.