March 5, 2013

Movie Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

Three years ago horror fans were treated to The Last Exorcism, another in a long line of exorcism themed films that. One that seemed predestined to join the long line of Exorcist wannabes. Surprisingly, the found footage exorcism flick won me over and proved to be a rather interesting look at a man going through a crisis of faith who was letting you in on the sham of exorcism, but still believing in helping people. It was pretty interesting, even up to the end that brought him face to face with a very real evil. Now we are presented with a sequel of a rather different vintage.

The Last Exorcism Part II has arrived, and seems to make the title something of a misnomer, or at least read a little funny. Well, I guess it could still be accurate in relationship to the first film when you look at the focus here. The exorcism of the first film did prove to be the reverend's last, even if it did not exactly work, as proved by the existence of this movie. Anyway, the movie ditches the found footage style and the reverend and picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first film.

As the movie opens we discover Nell (Ashley Bell) taking shelter in the home of a young couple. The frightened teen is taken to something of a group home for girls where she can work through her past and attempt to reintegrate with society. Nell is timid, scared of her own shadow, afraid that the demon Abalam is still after her.

Slowly and with the help of the man running the house, as well as the other girls, Nell learns to smile again. She gets a job, meets a boy, and seems to be successfully leaving the demons behind her. But then things begin to happen that indicate that her past was not as ridiculous as you would think, that the demon is not the fictional being she has decided he is.

Being a horror movie, and on the heels of the events of the first, us horror fans know that something is bound to happen. And something most definitely does happen. Things go bump in the night, people get contorted, and Nell knows she is in trouble. Not to give anything away, but I like the way it develops, the way we are teased, the way we are taken on a journey by Nell.

While I do not feel this movie is nearly as successful as the first, I find the Nell character to be pretty interesting and is well played by Ashley Bell. The movie has a bit more generic feeling with the lack of found footage and crisis of faith angles. Still, despite the more straightforward style, it still proves to be effective.

Much of the credit must fall on the back of Ashley Bell, reprising the role of Nell from the first film. She gives an involving performance, taking us through a variety of feelings. Bell disappears into Nell, giving her this fragile naïveté, as if she actually did escape from some crazy cult, sheltered from just about everything. It is a better performance than the movie probably deserves and makes the movie worth seeing.


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