Monday, March 11, 2013

It Came From The Cineplex: The Last Exorcism Part II

Somehow I was fortunate enough to miss the first installment of this franchise and was reluctant to see the ridiculously titled newest entry, for fear that I wouldn't understand what was happening. I needn't have worried. There's so little going on in this movie that you could come in 3/4 of the way into its skimpy run time and still not feel you'd missed anything.

The first film was shot in the dreaded "found footage" style of which I'm growing very weary. This one changes things up a bit and is filmed as a traditional narrative. Doesn't matter-- it was still an ordeal to have to slog through. 

The Plot:
As near as I can tell Part II picks up right where Part I left off. Nell Sweetzer, fresh from her recent demonic exorcism, is discovered hiding in a New Orleans home. She's cleaned up, taken in at a half-way house for girls, instantly makes some new friends, gets a job and begins a new chapter of her life. Unfortunately Abalam, the demon who possessed her in the first film, decides he's in love with her (!) and wants to move back in. Move back into her body, that is. Abalam is a little on the jealous side and gets a bit murdery towards anyone who gets too close to Nell or tries to harm her. There's some hooey about an end of the world prophecy if she submits to him; she does so and the film ends with a budget apocalypse as she drives down the street making trees and cars catch fire. Scary!

Pros:
• The film's only 88 minutes long, including credits. That's all I got.

Cons:
• In every single exorcism movie I've ever seen, the demon-possessed subject always painfully contorts their body into impossible, bone-breaking positions. This usually includes spinning their head around several times in an effort to shock us and clue us in that they're possessed. How in the hell (haw!) is this possible? Even with supernatural forces involved, a person cannot twist their neck around 680 degrees and live. They'd drop dead the moment they tried, leaving the demon high and dry and forcing it to seek a new body in which to set up house.

• When two characters in a movie visit the zoo and you realize you'd rather watch the animals in the background, you know you're in for a rough time.

• This makes two movies in a row I've seen that feature birds flying into the windows of the main character's home and killing themselves.

• This movie absolutely revels in its PG-13 rating. There's nary a trace of gore to be seen (even when one character slits his own throat!) and Abalam's "seduction" of Nell is positively chaste. I've seen After School Specials that were more shocking. So why bother? Why make a demonic possession movie and forget to include the demon and all the trappings? 

• The film is riddled with numerous jump-scares. One more time, Hollywood-- jump-scares do not make your non-scary movie any scarier. They might work if you're a jittery ninety year old maiden aunt who hasn't taken her nerve tonic; otherwise they're just annoying.

• Was Nell's dad really alive? Early in the film it seems like Nell's hallucinating him, but in a later scene he tries to kill her with a shotgun, implying he's real. Honestly I didn't really care enough to try and figure it out.

• The idea of a demon being "in love" with the object of its possession is kind of interesting, but naturally the movie does absolutely nothing with it. Abalam (wasn't that a Genesis album?) causes Nell to caress her own cheek in her sleep a couple of times, and that's pretty much it. The rest of the time we're told through dialog that he's in love with her and wants her. Remember the movie rule, guys: Show, don't tell.

• The whole "the world will end if Nell succumbs to the Demon" thing seems to come out of nowhere. Was that a thing in the first film?

• The Order Of The Right Hand's plan to save Nell from Abalam seemed sketchy at best. They planned to summon the demon and once it's inside Nell they'd use some kind of spell to somehow transfer it into the body of a chicken (!). They'd then kill said chicken and Abalam as well. The fate of the entire world's at stake and the best plan they can come up with involves a chicken?

With its skimpy plot that can't even fill up a truncated 88 minutes, let's all hope this really is the last exorcism. I give it a D+.

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