Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

2010's Eli Roth-produced horror The Last Exorcism took many by surprise. It put an original spin on the somewhat tired horror concept of exorcism and also breathed some life into the world of handheld camera horror. Sadly, the film's sequel looses everything that made the original so chilling, reverting back to uninspired generic conventions.

Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) remains haunted by the events of the first film and is moved to a creeking New Orleans boarding house as a means of recovery. Despite a promising start at a new life, a variety of strange and bloody occurrences remind Nell that the demon Abalam never left her.

The Last Exorcism Part II returns to a more conventional style - dropping the slightly more interesting documentary angle that its predecessor took. We also lose the chilling sense of ambiguity of the first film - we never question whether Nell is facing psychological trauma as a result of her dark upbringing - instead it is simply presumed that she is possessed. By distancing the sequel from these former characteristics it already becomes far less interesting.

Director and co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly packs the film with genre cliches - from New Orleansian voodoo to uninspired dialogue about 'evil being unleashed' (you know the drill). Whilst the opening does display a well-crafted sense of tension and there is the occasional unexpected jump, it really is not anything you have not seen done before - and in a superior fashion.

The film's sole saving grace is Ashley Bell who brings a timid sweetness to the role of Nell, which carries an underlying air of malice and unease. Unfortunately, by the film's cheaply handled conclusion (complete with cringe-inducing rock soundtrack and CGI fire), the building impact of Bell's performance is completely squandered.

Whilst the occasional casual viewer may fall pray to the uninspired scares, horror fans and most others will simply feel unmoved and bored by this cheap, cliched cash-in.

RATING: 1.5/5

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