Ashley Bell will reprise her role as Nell in The Last Exorcism II: The Beginning of the End. This has been a while in the offing, first reported back in January HERE Check out its first official synopsis:
“Eli Roth & Strike Entertainment bring us an even more terrifying and bigger scale sequel to THE LAST EXORCISM that grossed $70 million worldwide. It looks like Nell Sweetzer’s last exorcism was not foolproof. She is back… and so are her demons.
Continuing where the first film left off, teenage Nell Sweetzer is found dirty and terrified in the woods having just escaped a demon ritual in which a cult helped her give birth to a demon baby. Confused and scared, Nell is examined by doctors but she doesn’t remember much about the previous few months except that as a result of everything, her family is now dead. She is moved into Davreaux – a girls’ halfway house in New Orleans, where she will try to put her life back together with the help of the therapist, Frank Merle. She even begins to date a boy named Chris and starts a job at a local hotel.
But something doesn’t feel right to Nell. She is being sought after by the demon who possessed her in the first LAST EXORCISM. It wants Nell, but in a different way than before…”
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, second generation evangelical Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) has had a crisis of faith. He has invited documentary camera crew, Iris Reisen (Iris Bahr) and Daniel Moskowitz (Adam Grimes) to record his last days as a minister. Cotton explains that the exorcisms he and his father before him have performed are all fraudulent and he will expose his secrets for the cameras. He takes the crew on his final exorcism, to a farm in rural Louisiana where Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum) has requested help for his possessed daughter Nell (Ashley Bell).
They meet with resistance in the form Nell’s brother Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) who clearly doesn’t want them there. Nevertheless, Cotton performs the fake exorcism and ‘cures’ Nell. He takes his fee from Louis and leaves the farm, however things are worse than anyone could have imagined…
Produced by Eli Roth and well directed by Daniel Stamm who focuses the film on the characters and mood rather than cheap shocks or gore. The mockumentary style has been used with increasing regularity in the horror genre since the breakout success of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ in 1999. This is better than the ‘Diary of the Dead’, ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ and its sequel, but is nowhere near as good as ‘Rec’. That’s not a huge criticism as ‘Rec’ is an outstanding addition to the genre.
The main reason the movie works, at least for the most part, is that the actors are all excellent, individually and as a collective they are really believable and manage to sell the documentary feel of the movie. Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell are real standouts, they both show incredible range. Ashley Bell is a star in the making; there is one particular moment where Cotton opens Nell’s bedroom door and asks who she’s talking too, deadpan she answers “No one”, as Cotton closes the door, Nell gives a disturbingly sweet smile straight to camera.
The Last Exorcism is a good suspenseful drama with a different and original take on the possession/exorcism sub-genre. That’s what it is, what it isn’t, is a good horror film. There aren’t any real scares, it’s a refreshingly realistic approach to exorcism and if you buy into the characters on concept is genuinely disturbing in parts.
There has been a fair bit of criticism of the ending and fair enough as it takes a huge turn from the preceding 80 minutes; it’s a clear homage to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and feels added-on. If the movie had ended 10 minutes earlier I would have been much happier; however as with most of these things if you choose to go with it you’ll enjoy the movie.
Quality: 3 out of 5 stars (4 without that ending)
Any good: 3 out of 5 stars (4 without that ending)
So the second hostel features 3 girls instead of 3 lads; see what he did there, totally different approach. They are the apparently as-rich-as-Bill Gates Beth (Lauren German), her feisty friend Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and tag along nerd Lorna (Heather Matarazzo – who deserves better material than this and is given nothing to do).
The movie opens with Paxton from the first movie waking from a ‘oh no it was a dream’ shot, it wasn’t he’s decapitated. The girls head to the hostel in Slovakia and are drugged, kidnapped and we’ve been here before.
The killings this time around include an Elizabeth Bathory style bathing in a bath of blood, a guy torn apart by the facility guard dogs and a circular saw to the face, well, hair but the face comes off with it…
SPOILER ALERT. Beth turns the tables on her torturer and makes a deal with the mafia types to escape. To do so though, she must kill as apparently that’s house rules. So she cuts off her would-be-torturers genitals and throws them to a guard dog!
Worse than the first one; it repeats the same structure without improving on it which shouldn’t have been too difficult. There are a few scenes that you know are added to set-up another possible sequel… please God NO.
A disappointing effort from Eli Roth who’s really enjoyed the limelight he’s been thrust into over the last few years since. ‘Cabin Fever’ was a great debut; it promised so much and won him so many fans as he spoke like a fan of the genre. He seems to be coasting along when he really should be pushing to make something great, he probably has the ability we’re just waiting to see it.
Quality: Averagely well made 2 out of 5 stars
Any good: Not really 1 out of 5 stars
Three backpackers in Amsterdam are locked out of their hostel. They trawl through the red light district, get drunk and are given information about a hostel in Slovakia where the girls are beautiful and love American men. The hostel is ‘To die for’
These opening scenes are supposed to give us some time to get to know our lead characters and therefore have some empathy for them when they’re inevitably tortured and killed.
Anyway the guys, Americans Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson) and Icelander Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) head off to Slovakia and check-in to the hostel. On first impression it seems like the hostel is as they were led to believe. Not at all a front for a rich man’s club where they pay small fortunes to torture and kill backpackers with impunity… Or is it..?
Soon enough, they’re drugged, kidnapped and strapped into chairs in murky rooms… Torture ensues: tendons cut, fingers and toes severed etc, the usual stuff… then it’s a blow torch to an eye.
This is Eli Roth’s second feature after his fun debut ‘Cabin Fever’. Despite the bigger budget, higher production values and Quentin Tarantino as executive producer it’s not as good as his debut. Sure it’s a good idea for a horror film; it’s just not that good an idea. We’ve seen similar themes before and I’m sure Roth and Tarantino have seen the same movies being fans of horror and Grind house.
I just don’t buy it. The whole premise of a hostel where these kids disappear from was like an ‘anti-The Beach’ and pointless.
SPOILER ALERT. Paxton’s escape and revenge is a little too contrived and totally unbelievable. The car chase killing of the bastards who led him to the hostel is a bad joke and the train station revenge feels like an add-on idea.
Not as bad as I’ve described it. But if you like this sort of thing, seeing people tortured then you’re sick and fortunately for you there are better movies out there. The horrific ‘The Girl Next Door’ was made on a fraction of the budget and has realistic, empathetic characters. Also ‘Martyrs’ leaves this in its wake for creepy chills and disturbing scenes of torture. If you can handle it ‘Salo: 120 Days of Sodom’ will disturb, horrify and scare the shit out of you in equal measures.
Quality: Well made 3 out of 5 stars
Any good: Not really, 2 out of 5 stars