Playing as the closing movie of FrightFest way back in 2010 The Last Exorcism came out at the height of a resurgence in possession movies proving demons were once again de rigueur.
The faux-documentary following evangelical minister Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) who was not all he seemed to be offered up some twists both on the genre and in the amazing physical performance of the possessed girl Nell played with aplomb by Ashley Bell.
Even given the finality of its title and its ending its popularity proved too great and 3 years later here we find Nell’s story continuing in The Last Exorcism Part II which literally follows on where the first part finished.
After the events of the fateful exorcism and ensuing carnage Nell is discovered alone and confused and taken into a care home in New Orleans where she soon starts to live a relatively normal life with the other girls even getting herself a job and a boyfriend.
However the evil that lurks within her is not gone and tormented by terrible nightmares and frightening visions she soon realises that the demon Abalam that took control of her mind and body before is far from finished.
Directed by newcomer Ed Gass-Donnelly who also wrote the screenplay along with Damien Chazelle The Last Exorcism Part II discards the found footage elements from the first part to tell Nell’s story straight in a traditional narrative which is a far better format to continue on this terrible tail.
Central to everything is Nell and the brilliant performance of actress Ashley Bell who is immensely engaging and perfectly captures the sweet innocence of a sheltered country girl raised to believe in fundamentalist religion that we met in the original movie and have come to care for.
Part II is all about Nell’s maturation both from girl to woman and from victim to fighter as we see her sexual awakening both naturally and brought on by the demon inside her as well as her transition from a docile puppet of evil to a determined survivalist trying to rid herself of the possession that has dominated her young life.
With the great setting of New Orleans The Last Exorcism Part II throws voodoo into the mix of religion and the supernatural providing plenty of freaky moments, great jumps and truly disturbing scenes to keep horror fans happy.
With flashbacks to the first film along with the reappearance of her dead father (Louis Herthum) the movie cleverly keeps the audience guessing to what is real and what is all in Nell’s damaged psyche until the climax and the inevitable exorcism where things take a turn into the terrifying.
A solid sequel to an excellent possession movie, fans of the first film and even new comers to the story will not be disappointed. Although The Last Exorcism Part II may be a bit more traditional and predictable than the previous installment it is propelled far ahead of other horrors by a superb star turn from Ashley Bell and with its epic unsettling ending if we make it to Part III it looks set to be one Hell of a film!
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