Sunday, March 3, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Last Exorcism 2 (2013)


Once again...filmmakers try to limit the devil to a PG-13 rating. And once again...the scares are delivered in a tediously tame manner.

Before we begin our journey into weak supernatural horror, let us first recognize how smart the first The Last Exorcism  was. Hah...the first The Last Exorcism. We'll explore the hilarious title for the new film in a moment. So, when the first entry came out...we were treated to something apart from the usual found footage possession/supernatural film that usually populates movie theaters these days. The Last Exorcism  was a smartly written, well performed and well directed horror story filled with thoughtfully conceived twists that yielded provocative subject matter truly questioning the horror of the film. You were kinda hoping that this was a devil possession horror movie rather than what the film suggested. It's the kind of horror film that expertly weaves real-life horror themes with traditional supernatural elements which created a potent horror thriller different from the usual jump-scare trash.
 
Anchored by the memorable performances given by both Patrick Fabian as Cotton and Ashley Bell as Nell Sweetzer, the first film was something all its own that never warranted a second visit. However, Hollywood is a greedy beast...so, a sequel was green-lighted and here we are.
 
 
Before we move into my film review...here's a snippet (thanks to Shock Til You Drop) of Eli Roth talking about the title of the film:
"My title was actually The Devil Inside, that's what I wanted to call it. The Devil Inside: The Last Exorcism II. Then, of course, The Devil Inside came out. Ed Gass-Donnelly called it The Beginning of the End. When CBS bought it, we knew collectively that we'd get a lot of jokes about The Last Exorcism Part II, but regardless of that title, we're proud of the movie and that's what counts."
Interesting bit of info there from horror maestro Eli Roth. Especially the last line where he genuinely admits that he's proud of The Last Exorcism 2. I mean...it's not a bad film by any measure. It's just ridiculously generic and tedious.

The film begins directly where the first one left us. And let me pause here for a sec because the beginning is the best part of the entire film. After we're given a brief recap of what happened, we're treated to some really captivating creepy horror. The kind of horror that resonates long after the film's credits roll. I was actually tricked into thinking that I was in store for one hell of a ride with the beginning of the film. It's some really great stuff and it's a shame that the rest of the film wasn't as scary as the first 10 minutes.
 
 
So, Nell is discovered and evaluated by doctors and stuff until she's ultimately given a place to stay at a home for wayward teenage girls run by a scruffy old man (which probably would've made a fun film all its own). She reintegrates into society for a couple months until some weird shit starts happening...and then it is discovered that the demon Abalam is not quite done with Nell. Oooohhh....no, he's not. In fact...he wants to give her some of his raging throbbing demon love. And it is here that you're thinking that the spooky shit is gonna start taking off and making things disturbingly great. Only...it never really does. In fact...the MPAA c-blocks Abalam with a PG-13 rating. I mean...let's be real. How can you put such a safe rating on a film that tries to deal with demons destroying the world? There's no real evil demon stuff going on here. No soul-eating or demonic cock-fighting to be had. Would it have killed the writers to throw in a lesbian nude scene...or three??
 
Ashley Bell is an impressive talent that will, no doubt, go on to better things...hopefully, within the genre. She's fun to watch as she desperately tries to figure out what the hell demons want with her. And, judging by her recent turn in the under-appreciated The Day, Bell is an actress that can pretty much tackle beefier roles usually played by tougher personalities.
 
Director Ed Gass-Donnelly really tries to save The Last Exorcism 2. You can tell that he's a decent director who really tries to create a creepy atmosphere with the material given...even tho he wrote a good portion of the story. It all just feels obviously forced. Kinda like a studio forced filmmakers to make a sequel out of something that totally didn't need a sequel.
 
 
Oh...and the CGI sucks. There are CGI flies that look like CGI flies and CGI bursts of flames that look like CGI bursts of flames. Had they simply gone with conventional special effects and relied on truly disturbing imagery, we might've been talking about something special here. However...not today.
 
I almost forgot to mention the fucking bird gag! There's a scene in last week's theatrical release of Dark Skies  where a bunch of birds fly into a house. Well...they're back! But, instead of flying into a fucking house...here they are flying into a fucking church. This...along with the silver-painted "tin guy" from earlier in the film...seriously elicited laughter rather than fear.
 
The Last Exorcism 2  is tediously lacking of any true fright. It lacks the creepy subtleties of the first film and tries to be something that it isn't. Fortunately, I only paid 5 bucks for the Sunday matinee...so, I never really felt ripped off. Especially, considering how great the first 10 minutes are. There's never any true threat or any sense of malevolent urgency in the film, which is too bad because had they really went full throttle with this film...it would've been something cool.
 
Save your hard earned money for the real deal which comes out April 5th.
 
 
 
 
 
By the by...here's a fun little promotional bit made for The Last Exorcism 2  that is actually slightly more entertaining than the actual film...





Thanks for reading,

bryan.





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