By Jair Fuentes
“The Last Exorcism Part II” continues the terrifying story of Nell Sweetzer, a girl trying to escape an evil force that once possessed her. Unfortunately, due to its excessive focus on “jump scares,” it does not top the original.
Picking up where the first film left off, 17-year- old Nell Sweetzer, played by Ashley Bell, finds herself isolated in the woods near her home.
When Nell is found alive, she is taken to a doctor where she is told that she is the sole survivor of a satanic ritual that had occurred in the woods.
In an attempt to have her return to society and heal safely, she is placed in a home for girls.
There, she discovers that the demon she thought she had escaped from has found her once again leading to a shocking finale.
Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, director Ed Gass-Donnelly does a good job of incorporating scenery from the city, such as colorful architecture, double-gallery houses, Victorian mansions and even a Mardi Gras-type parade into the film.
One problem with the film is that it lacks actual story, while relying largely on “jump scares.” This messes with the film’s pacing, making it slow and leaving extra room for pointless situations that don’t help the film’s plot.
Character development is also a huge issue. New characters such as Nell’s friend, Gwen, played by Julia Garner, and love interest Chris, played by Spencer Treat Clark, aren’t fully explored.
Audiences don’t get a chance to really know them, which is a shame considering the film had enough time to fit that in. The lack of connection makes audiences not care about those characters.
Many of the angles and tone of the film seem to be paying homage to past horror films, even the way the title is presented as “Part II” is reminiscent of that.
Lead actress Bell, however, does a great job reprising the role of Nell. She does a great job of capturing the sincerity and innocence required for the character. Her performance brings to mind a young Sissy Spacek from the classic film, “Carrie.”
Written by Damien Chazelle, the story doesn’t seem to go anywhere until the last 20 minutes of the film.
Throughout the film, Nell is put in situations where she is repeatedly reminded that the demon, Abalam, is after her. Yet, significant symbols shown on the walls and backgrounds of other characters, such as Cecile, a woman who randomly helps her, don’t get explained properly.
The biggest problem with this sequel is that it’s very underdeveloped and makes little reference to the original. In fact, the only returning factor besides Bell, is producer Eli Roth. There’s hardly any ties to the previous events.
“The Last Exorcism Part II” is not presented in the found footage/documentary style like its predecessor was. Some might miss the realistic feel that the original provided.
The film has an eerie tone and the constant “jump scares,” but a better story is what was needed to keep audiences interested. “The Last Exorcism Part II” is now playing in theaters everywhere. It’s rated PG-13 for horror violence and brief language.