Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Last Exorcism 2 Review
Last Exorcism 2 is the very definition of the unnecessary sequel. I was perfectly happy believing that poor Nell died in the demonic fire that consumed the camera crew and possibly her father as well. So part of the reason I went and saw this film was that I couldn’t imagine what the sequel would be about, considering how the first one ended.
Even the title, Last Exorcism 2, seems counterintuitive, because really, how can there be a part two when the first one was supposed to be the last? But here’s the thing: Nell (Ashley Bell) survived, but there were characters for whom the first Last Exorcism was just that.
Do I think the movie’s producers thought that deeply about it? Hell no. They saw a sequel that might make money and went for it. I certainly didn’t reach the end of the first film and think ‘can’t wait for the sequel!’
The Last Exorcism was a fairly run of the mill movie that had two things going well for it: Ashley Bell’s bendiness and a humdinger of an ending that I never expected in a million years. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t do anything new with the genre except the aforementioned things, and only the ending really blew my mind.
We catch up with Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) seemingly directly after the end of the first film. After a little bit of fiddling around in someone else’s house, she ends up in the hospital with no memory of what took place before. This is convenient because then we can ignore the whole ‘trauma from having a baby ripped out of you and fed to a massive living fire’ thing. It’s also kind of a cop-out, but hey, they had to reconcile the end of a movie that clearly imagined no sequel to it somehow.
Nell gets transferred to a sort of halfway house for troubled girls in a creepy New Orleans mansion that still has rotary phones for some reason. She’s understandably awkward with the other girls because she’s been raised in the backwoods and never had modern conveniences like a computer or much else, apparently. This is one of the problems with this movie. In the first movie, Nell was a nice girl that the audience wanted to see cured, but she was more a vehicle to move the story along than an actual character, so there’s not much inherent personality for the film to build on, and what character development they do give her is sort of generic. As a result, she’s a bit flat and a little uninteresting to watch. This isn’t a slam on Ashley Bell, she does a great job with what little she had to work with, but she’s just so much less interesting than the other girls that inhabit the halfway house with her.
Last Exorcism 2 doesn’t advance the devil possession genre much at all, falling back on the same tired things we’ve seen over and over again. They do get some points for why the demon Abalam is still hanging around Nell, but it’s not dealt with strongly enough to make the film unique or truly memorable.
One thing that annoyed the hell out of me is that there were tons of people who knew more than Nell about the supposedly secret cult that had done this to her. So my question is where were they when the first movie was going on? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Likewise I can’t decide whether the people who watch Nell from behind creepy masks are really there or not. They could be her imagination, but then there is supposed to be this whole cult to Abalam, and you’d think they’d be out looking for her, but it’s muddy as to whether the cultists she meets are real or not. The film tries to keep it vague, but that’s not the best strategy. The one guy that her friend sees could be either a cult member or just sort of a creepy street artist dude that saw a girl he liked and wanted to follow her around a bit.
Things pick up towards the end of the film, when Nell decides to trust a group of people to help her with the demon problem. I don’t need to tell you how that goes.
Nell makes a choice at the end of the film, and I have to say that I honestly agree with what she did, though it’s kind of a bad thing that the part of the movie I liked the best is the last few scenes. I’m relatively certain that this is the end of Nell’s story, though if it makes enough money I guess there’s a chance we’ll see another one.