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  Movie Review

The Last Exorcism Part II

By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Talk about truth in advertising: Not only is there little chance that "The Last Exorcism Part II" (CBS) will really be the "last" of its kind -- any more than its 2010 predecessor was -- there's no exorcism going on here, either.

There's a sort of voodoo rite near the end of the picture, but it's not at all what it appears to be. So poor Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) and Abalam -- the unseen demon what loves her -- will, it seems, be roaming around Louisiana for some time to come.

Demon-possession franchises never really die. They're just remade progressively more cheaply, then rebooted years later by new producers.

Anyway, Abalam, who possessed Nell in the original "Last Exorcism," is Troilus to her Cressida, Edward to her Bella, George to her Gracie.

Sad-eyed Nell is his sacrificial virgin, and he must have her, but only of her own free will. This, we're told, will kick off the end times.

Going by the low-budget production values on display here, said end times will apparently look a lot more like the zombie apocalypse than anything mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

This edition omits the conflicted religious imagery of the first film involving a charlatan evangelist who claimed to cast out demons. Now, Nell is living in a small residential psychiatric facility for outpatient treatment -- an arrangement necessitated by her "bad dreams" -- while she works as a hotel maid.

At one point, Nell slips into a small Catholic church to pray. Since she doesn't bless herself, though, it's pretty clear she's not of the faith. She also sometimes wears a gold cross necklace. But if this sacred symbol has the power to ward off evil, that's never demonstrated.

Nell gets interested in Chris (Spencer Treat Clark), only to have Abalam possess him as well, with violent results.

Sometimes, Nell's dead father Louis (Louis Herthum) pops up like the ghost of Hamlet's dad to bring tidings of woe. "If he can seduce you,'" he says of Abalam, "he'll be free."

Director Ed Gass-Donnelly, who co-wrote the screenplay with Damien Chazelle, saves the big effects for the end. So, for nearly an hour, Nell just wanders around or goes about her job while spooky music plays.

Compared to the devilish boredom these endless blank spaces conjure up, good old Abalam is hardly any bother at all.

The film contains a confused treatment of religion, fleeting sexual imagery, mild gore and a couple of uses of profanity. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

- - -

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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