So, I am sitting in this coffee shop downtown and there is this adorable kid across the able from me. He can’t be more than a year old and he’s absolutely adorable. It’s crowded in here and his mother let me share a table with them because there’s an outlet near the table that I need for my laptop. They don’t know I am sitting here writing a review for the abysmal misfire of a horror sequel The Last Exorcism Part II (as the title card calls it), but honestly, if I hadn’t watched it I wouldn’t be having this moment of goofing around with a toddler had I not seen it. So thanks for that, guys.
Picking up not too long after the events of the first film, the previously possessed Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is struggling to find her way back to normalcy following a brief hospitalization. She’s placed in a halfway house for wayward girls and now has a job as a motel housekeeper and a potential suitor in a kindly young co-worker. It’s not all meant to last, however, as the demon Ablam comes back to love/possess her once again.
As far as demonic possession sequels go, it’s not as static as the Paranormal Activity films or as batshit crazy as Exorcist II, but only small parts of it actually work as a film. Gone is the faux-documentary style of the original in favour of a slick, straightforward narrative. Canadian director Ed Gass-Donnelly previously made the atmospheric drama Small Town Murder Songs, and for the first half of the film he matches the same sort of low-key aesthetic. He doesn’t know how to stage any of the film’s requisite early jump scares (which come off as laughably half-hearted), but he does create an unsettling vibe that matches the lead character’s madness nicely. It’s not particularly engaging since there’s little story outside of wondering if Nell is simply mad, she’s getting messed with by an evil cult, or if things are actually going wrong again, and unfortunately for the film the answer to the question is never in doubt and there’s no suspense to be gleaned from any of it.
But the interesting atmosphere gets destroyed about an hour in when the script (which Gass-Donnelly co-wrote) simply gives up and bails out of the car to watch the whole movie go off a cliff. A mystic character is introduced that could have literally rendered the movie useless AND manages to negate everything that came before it. She even has lines of dialogue that contradict each other five minutes after she said the exact opposite thing. The movie flat out stops caring because it doesn’t seem to believe the audience wants to see a thoughtful film about exorcisms and a young woman struggling with her identity. Nope. It simply slaps together some claptrap we’ve seen a thousand times before with crumbling walls, spirits, chanting, and other such standard nonsense done with little to no conviction.
And the less said about the inexplicably shitty CGI riddled final sequence the better it goes out on such an anti-climactic note that it’s infuriating how little there is to be said about it. So let me end by saying that this kid across the table is really adorable, you guys.