What I'm Watching: Last Exorcism Part 2
One of my favourite movies from a few years back was the found footage gem, Last Exorcism. It was a great, twisty tale that really used the found footage format effectively, and literally kept you guessing until the last few minutes, and then made you rethink EVERYTHING you just watched. That rare movie that truly rewards multiple viewings.
So of course, they had to make a sequel. How did that go?
Not well, sadly. Everything the first movie was, the sequel isn't. I mean that QUITE literally. The movie is not very thrilling, it's actually kinda boring for the first half of the movie, and they ditch the found footage style to do a traditional movie.
I know I complain about found footage overdose, but ditching that for the sequel just seems wrong. I don't think they could have told THIS specific story in that style, but they still could have done some other story that would fit. It just does not feel like a movie in the same universe.
The first half of the movie covers Nell's resurfacing and recovering after the events of the first movie. They do some decent character work, but you always sit there waiting for that moment when things go horribly wrong, and those moments were long in coming, and very small, very mundane even, and very typical of the genre. Nothing at all noteworthy.
Once the demonic goodness kicks in, we pick up a little bit, but again, it's just very standard fare. Nell seeks the helpful local mystic juju voodoo woman, who calls in an exorcist, and she gets strappedown once again.
The actual exorcism is such a minor part of the movie, and oh look, they bring up the almost overused namedrop of Croatoa/Croatoan. There is just so little style to this movie to call its own, so little innovation, and barely a story there in the first place.
Once again, the highlight is Ashley Bell as Nell. She still does a great job, even though it is lessened this time, as with everything else. And she still does some creepy movements, which she excelled at in the first movie. It's hard to buy the innocence routine after the first movie, and I think not being found footage harms that even more. The verite style brings you right into the movie, into their lives, and you feel closer to them psychologically, and a more standard movie puts up that wall of the theatre screen.
Most frustrating is how often the movie likes to do non scare scares. Typified by a moment when Abalam returns and possesses someone close to Nell, grabbing someone, and closing themselves up in a room. You hear a ruckus, someone comes along and opens the door to reveal...NOTHING!
In the words of Bart Simpson, you know what would've been better than nothing? ANYTHING!!
It's a shame, really, because the basic idea of Nell recovering and finding she has not escaped the clutches of Abalam has some legs for a story. But it never really clicks, since it's almost the background, and not the story. Also, they don't really deal at all with the actual birth of the demon at the end of the first movie, or anything in that movie at all. Did they even watch it?
The best part of the movie is the final few moments, with what barely qualifies as their twist. It doesn't cause a major paradigm shift in the way this movie works, like the first, which is a shame. But it is a good "Oooh" moment, and leads to some good stuff.
Some good stuff that would be dealt with more in a third movie if they made one, which I'm not too terribly keen to see, quite frankly. Of course, since they ditched the ending of the alst movie, while also starting from the exact moment the first movie ended!, I don't expect anything here would be followed up on either, if it continues.
Stick with the original, and gives this sequel a wide berth, unless you just want to watch Ashley Bell do her thing. Actually, STILL stick to the original, because she does it better there.