When you qualify your movie as the "last" anything, a sequel seems a bit out of the question, but these new filmmakers have essentially relegated the 2010 original to a mere backstory. They have moved on from the video-cam format and the whole debunking premise to make a much more straightforward horror romp. And while it's packed with cliches, it heads full-speed into a final act that's jaw-droppingly bonkers enough to make this a guilty pleasure.
After the carnage of that farmhouse exorcism, Nell (Bell) is the only survivor. She's taken to a New Orleans halfway house with other battered women, who begin to teach her how to live her life after growing up in isolation. She still has a sense of her religious roots, but learns to enjoy pop music and even starts flirting with a cute handyman (Clark). Even though she wants to believe that her demon-possession wasn't real, it becomes apparent that maybe that previous exorcism didn't quite take. "A piece of him is still inside you," says an occult expert (Jensen), completely without irony. Indeed the demon is back with a vengeance, and he has something awful in mind.
Filmmaker Gass-Donnelly keeps the atmosphere tense, throwing in elements from every horror film in recent memory, including creepy masked figures, staticky broadcasts, insidious phone calls, buzzing houseflies and even a sassy psychic (Riggs). The soundtrack is full of creep-out noises, while the images are intercut with flickers of the previous film. But all of this is done in that bland Hollywood style that makes us jump without actually freaking us out. Thankfully, the film has Bell on board to deliver a performance much better than the movie deserves: she's genuinely unsettling as the tormented innocent.
Even more interesting is the way the script plays with ideas about her background as part of a crazy-eyed religious sect, which makes her exploration of the world around her rather involving. She begins to question her own past and discover truths about the world around her, but does this make her more or less vulnerable to the demon that wants her soul? When he makes his fiery return, the film cuts loose with gleeful nastiness that's wickedly nutty. And the film's final shot actually makes us look forward to Part III.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st March 2013
Box Office USA: $15.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $15.2M
Distributed by: CBS Films
Production compaines: CBS Films, StudioCanal
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 16%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 57
IMDB: 3.9 / 10
Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Screenwriter: Damien Chazelle, Ed Gass-Donnelly
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