We're going to take the high road, skip all the obvious "how could it be 'The Last'?" jokes and just accept the fact that The Last Exorcism Part II is on the way, while simultaneously holding out hope that Part II explains that baffling ending to The Last Exorcism.
The trailer above lays out a pretty generic picture, in terms of horror movie narrative - but considering the nature of this unexpected sequel, there's still plenty to discuss.
First off, gone is the found-footage mockumentary style of the first film, which followed a documentary crew chronicling the (heh) final exorcism performed by charlatan preacher Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). Matter of fact: gone are the documentary crew and Cotton Marcus, who [SPOILER ALERT] all seemingly met untimely ends at the end of the first film. What we get now is something of a fresh start, shot in the format of a traditional horror flick, with a narrative now centering on young Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), the possessed (or mentally ill?) girl from the first film last seen giving birth to a hellspawn baby while under the thrall of a cult comprised of her own brother and fellow townspeople.
Nell's "amnesia" awakening in Part II preserves the mystery of Part I's ambiguous ending - though this trailer doesn't make it clear whether or not that expansion on the demonic mythos of "Abalam" will be worth the ticket price - or, as stated, just a rehash of similar exorcism/demon flicks. Worse yet: the footage in the trailer still walks enough of a line to drag out the "is she crazy or possessed" debate for yet another installment - a la Paranormal Activity 4's evidence that concrete answers are not in the studios' business model when it comes to cranking out cheap horror flicks.
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"Franchise" star Ashley Bell is certainly being handed a larger task than simply looking feral and contorting her body in sickening ways; though it remains to be seen whether the expansion of Nell's story was a worthwhile investment. Directing and co-writing the second installment is Ed Gass-Donnelly - a somewhat rookie feature-film director who caught attention with his festival picture, Small Town Murder Songs, a few years back. While it also remains to be seen if Gass-Donnelly can rise to this task, so far the visual quality of the film doesn't look that bad at all - a definite improvement over Part I's shaky-cam failures.
Still, there are so many "ifs" hanging over this project that it's hard to get too enthused - especially in a year when horror films like the Evil Dead remake are turning heads with more impressive trailers than this.
The Last Exorcism Part II will be in theaters on March 1, 2013.
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