Directed by: Ed Gass-Donnelly (Small Town Murder Songs)
Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen, Tarra Riggs
Here we have the three B’s of horror — bland, bad and boring — packed into 88 minutes (that seemed much longer) in a sequel that nobody asked for. Back in 2010, Daniel Stamm gave us one of the few “found footage” films where terms like clever, witty and genuinely creepy could reasonably be applied. That was The Last Exorcism — a perfectly self-contained story that was not crying out for a sequel. You will notice the absence of Stamm’s name from this one. It shows. In his place, we have someone named Ed-Gass-Donnelly. The best thing I can say is that he mostly shows workmanlike competence. At the same time, he’s ended up with a movie that is at once ridiculous and uninteresting. While I endorse the idea of not going with the “found footage” approach, I don’t think TV movie of the week is a marked improvement — especially this movie of the week.
It’s hard to know where to start in cataloguing where this thing goes wrong, Well, it’s never wise to show footage from the previous better movie, but I suppose that was necessary, especially since this one mostly seems to assume the viewer has seen The Last Exorcism (which ostensibly exists here as footage on the Internet — the only quasi-clever touch to be found). Otherwise, it isn’t big on backstory. Then there’s this completely tangential bit where our possessed heroine, Nell (Ashley Bell), wanders into someone’s bed and ends up huddled on a kitchen counter — all before anything actually happens. After this boring bit, we follow her hospitalization, treatment and parceling off to some kind of home for young women (mostly not demon-possessed) trying to get their lives back together. (I am not sure why this gloomy joint full of troubled underage girls is overseen by a middle-aged man and no one else. Maybe that’s what troubles them.) Soon, of course, things start going all Friedkin on her. And, yes, the damned demon is again called Abalam and, again, no one has the good sense to include a musical parody called “When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Abalam” (I remained hopeful).
Somewhat preposterously, it turns out that Abalam is basically one love-struck spawn of hell and he is all a-dither to take Nell home to meet mother (or whatever he uses for a mother). No fooling, that’s what all these supernatural shenanigans are about. This is all supposed to usher in the end of the world (don’t worry, neither the story, nor the budget extend that far). There’s some levitation, a girl who has some kind of fit (this goes nowhere), a trip to the zoo, some Mardi Gras footage (with people in creepy masks staring at Nell), a flock of suicidal birds (possibly left over from last week’s Dark Skies), a friendly voodoo practitioner and the promise of a possessed chicken (unfortunately, this doesn’t come off). There are occasionally nice compositions, but they mean little and often strain credulity (the only phone in this rambling house is in the downstairs hall?). At the end of the day — apart from a pretty funny ending — it’s just a really dull, slow, pointless demonic possession movie. Rated PG-13 for horror violence, terror and brief language.
Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher Cinema 7