Ashley Bell reprises her role as the tortured Nell in <em>The Last Exorcism Part II</em>.

Ashley Bell reprises her role as the tortured Nell in The Last Exorcism Part II.

The Last Exorcism Part II

Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, and Spencer Treat Clark star in a film written by Damien Chazelle and Ed Gass-Donnelly and directed by Gass-Donnelly.

In this sequel to the now-falsely titled The Last Exorcism, Ashley Bell gets to reprise her possessed and repossessed character from the artful, yet mostly un-terrifying original. Perhaps it would’ve been useful to call this sequel something like The Last Exorcism and This Time We Mean It, Honest, though such sarcasm is mitigated by the fact that this film is far superior to its predecessor, and actually quite frightening. What’s even better is its delightfully nihilistic conclusion — but perhaps I’ve said too much.

This one opens creepily after a brief recap of previously-on-The-Last-Exorcist highlights, which, if you recall, was a film made in the now-boring found footage style. Here we visit a nice married couple that wakes up to a panting, ice cold visitor from the latest demonic bonfire in the woods. The rest of the film features delightfully tricky movements between fantasy and reality and almost relentless frightening encounters. What’s perhaps unique is that the horrors take place with nary a drop of blood or other icky bodily fluids spilled: a wonder in the post-Hostel and Saw horror landscape.

But the best part of Part II is Bell, whose uncanny ability to change from doltish to wickedly sexy nicely matches director Ed Gass-Donnelly’s great blending of subjective terror states with sedate-yet-creepy surroundings. It’s been a long time since a horror director promised to sink us into so many webs of nice cinematic madness. Let’s just hope it’s not really the last time he possesses us.

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