Don't be fooled by the trailers for The Last Exorcism Part II, the sequel to our beloved faux-documentary indie hit. This isn't really a horror movie; The Last Exorcism: Part II is actually a sad story about a devoted demon who loves its innocent victim so deeply the creature would exhaust all of its supernatural powers and Earthly abilities trying to get BACK into Nell's spiritual pants. Alas, not nearly enough time is spent relishing the demonic dating games. The psychological horror that was established in the first movie was slowly ushered out the theater for cheap CG thrills.
A few spoilers ahead.
The Last Exorcism Part II picks up almost immediately where the first movie left off. A catatonic Nell (reprised by the delightful Ashley Bell) is discovered in Louisiana and swept off to New Orleans because making movies there is not only cheap, but also pretty. After the obligatory movie trope crazy-person sponge bath and memory-lapse seizure flashes, Nell joins a girls home and secures a job cleaning hotels. Things seem to be on the up-and-up for Nell and the audience as interesting roommates, a new boyfriend, and one creepy old man head mistress type slip into Nell's new life. Gently, the shy country girl starts to innocently sin her way into the dark side. It's almost adorable watching Nell's version of being bad, which includes kissing a boy on the lips wearing pink lipstick and listening to hotel guests fornicate through the walls. Sadly, the interesting side characters and corruption of Nell's soul side plots are all abruptly abandoned for secret religious societies and CG gimmicks.
This is where The Last Exorcism Part II derails from what made the first flick so mentally engaging. The lost lamb con man, Cotton Marcus' horrific journey and fire faith walk refreshed and energized the tired found footage genre. The second movie is shot in the classic narrative style but still had a chance to dig deeper. It's revealed that the original demon who possessed Nell is actually in love with her. This creature will stop at nothing to seduce her, but she has to allow this seduction of her own free will. But when the demon spends most of its time sexing her up while she's asleep, she's not really consenting, is she?
The whole consent/seduction concept is flawed. The premise overcomplicates what could have been a really interesting story about a girl who loses everything and turns to the only creature that ever loved her unconditionally, the devil. True, this very idea is propped up on wobbly legs by the climax, but it keeps breaking under flying CG knives and new faces. Plus there's the fact that Nell already had this devil's baby in the first movie. So hasn't she already consented to this demon? What was the baby they ripped out of her and threw into the fire? How can she be innocent if she's already carried demon spawn? Was that Abalam, the very demon that is now trying to midnight sex her? Why does this require consent but the first pregnancy didn't? Why does this creature love her at all? Not enough time is spent demonstrating or explaining just why Nell is so special that she would cause a supernatural being to go insane with feelings of love.
Instead of spending time with Nell or the earlier established (and interesting) characters, three strangers with Constantine tattoos tumble into the final scene to perform an emergency exorcism. The audience has had zero time to connect with anyone. Nell's emotional breakdown is overshadowed by secret rituals and stomach finger painting, dampening her final decision.
It's unfortunate because Bell can play one hell of a believable innocent but like the decision to film in New Orleans and only showcase the random plastic beads and Mardi Gras float, this movie is left retreading tired tropes. Stop this movie in the center and you have half of a great horror movie, too bad they couldn't have spent more time on this unrequited love story and less time poorly recreating things we've already seen before.