Making the Grades
Was it too much to hope that “last” as in The Last Exorcism was an accurate adjective? Apparently so since The Last Exorcism Part 2 hits theaters with the hint of an entire franchise to follow. Admittedly leaving Nell Sweetzer and her demonic possessor alone is difficult when the first movie grossed $67,738,090 worldwide on a production budget of $1.8 million.
Thankfully this sequel puts a tourniquet on the bloodletting seen in the previous film, lessening some of the gruesome depictions. It also loses the found footage premise and the handheld camera. Without the nauseating jiggle, Director Ed Gass-Donnelly creates plenty of tension and a sense of foreboding in the early part of the movie, skillfully employing horror movie staples and leaving audiences to wonder if Nell (Ashley Bell) is possessed by demons or her own wild imaginings. Unfortunately these improved production techniques don’t last.
Despite her gory history involving knives, and the fact she is found ransacking the home of random strangers, Nell avoids institutionalization. Instead she is sent to a home for troubled girls run by the grizzled Frank Merle (Muse Watson). The mousy newcomer casts an uneasy pall over her roommates that believe she has escaped from a cult in the woods. And who is to blame them. Nell waffles between painfully shy and naively childlike in her interactions—at least until the satanic spirit who wants to have her arrives on the scene.
At this point what could have been a bearable horror flick devolves into a cheap thriller with the number and frequency of made-you-jump tactics adding up as quickly as the death toll and stereotypical depictions. Once again the knives come out, the blood splatters and everyone wanders around in darkened rooms.
For teens intrigued by the occult, The Last Exorcism Part 2‘s portrayal of black art rituals and demonic beings may be tantalizing. But be warned, the characters in this movie are driven to commit suicide and murder as a result of their involvement with these activities. Equally as troubling may be the movie’s sexual overtones with sounds of sexual activity, a teen girl’s fascination with sex and the portrayal of an obsessive lover who severely restricts Nell’s involvement with other people.
Given the success of the first film (and some viewers bewildering attraction to scary movies), no one will be surprised if The Last Exorcism: Part 2 follows in the footsteps of its prequel and rakes in the money at the box office. But parents, who don’t want their children haunted by this trouble teen, should cast around for a more family friendly option.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Last Exorcism: Part 2.
Collecting beads during Mardi Gras has become a popular activity. Learn more about the history of this ritual.
According to legend, the demonic character in this story can’t take Nell—she must give herself to him. What does this say about personal choice? How can a person make decisions that will take them to a better future?
How does the depiction of religious leaders, Southern culture and practitioners of the black arts in this movie promote the stereotypes we see of these characters?