If any sub-genre has caused a massive rift in the horror community, it has been found footage. Ever since The Blair Witch Project brought the style to the forefront in 1999, it has been used in many films each year. Many have been low budget direct to video trash, but many films have made the formula work wonders such as the Paranormal Activity series, the [rec] series and Cloverfield. Another movie to hit it big at the box office in the genre was The Last Exorcism in 2010. Made on a budget of $2 million it grossed almost $67 million worldwide and sold extremely well on Blu-ray and DVD. Now with a different approach we have the direct sequel, The Last Exorcism: Part II, which abandons the format that helped make its predecessor a huge success.
After the events of the first film The Last Exorcism, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found in a near catatonic state. After being nursed back to health she is placed in a home for girls and begins trying to put the pieces of life back together and finally start leading a normal life. But the demon Abalam may have other plans as Nell starts sensing someone is watching her every move. Nell must find out if she is indeed being pursued or if she is just losing her mind.
While I did miss the found footage aspect in The Last Exorcism: Part II, I was pleasantly surprised by an understated and intimate story of Nell’s life after part 1. Ashley Bell really must be given the biggest share of the credit here as her portrayal of Nell is naturalistic and thoroughly convincing. The story is a solid follow up as well, examining the rebuilding of a personality that has been sheltered and torn down its whole life. Watching Bell wrestle with the balancing of a young woman trying to find normality and also battling feelings and repressed memories that are beyond the realm of the natural world is quite stunning to behold. More of a character piece than a straight up horror film, The Last Exorcism: Part II still carries some genuinely creepy moments, but the main reason to continue this story is for Nell herself. The character and the actor that portrays her elevate the material beyond the standard.
The Blu-ray from eOne is a striking transfer. For a $5 million dollar movie, it easily looks ten times better than it should. Clarity and detail are excellent throughout and color is bright and saturated. For a horror film this one is actually pretty bright and much of the story takes place in the daylight. A solid transfer all around and a surprisingly good story, The Last Exorcism: Part II is definitely worth checking out; especially for fans wanting to know what happened to Nell.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.