The Last Exorcism Part II can't match the suspense of the first Last Exorcism

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      Starring Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, and Spencer Treat Clark. Rated 14A. Now playing

      2010's The Last Exorcism was a pretty decent flick as far as Hollywood horrors go. It told the tale of an apparently possessed Louisiana teen named Nell (Ashley Bell) who is used as a test subject for a documentary shoot about fake exorcisms.

      While it incorporated a lot of that jittery, hand-held video-camera footage we've all gotten tired of, it was also quite suspenseful, and boasted believable performances by Bell and Patrick Fabian as the sham exorcist.

      The sequel, though it starts off well, doesn't relay the same dose of terror and dread, and ultimately—no matter how many talk-show appearances hotshot producer Eli Roth makes promoting it—feels like a cop out.

      It opens with flashbacks from the original, including its Blair Witch-style ending, and picks up right where it left off. In a nail-biting scene a demonic-acting Nell shows up in a couple's bed, mangles the guy's leg, and trashes the kitchen, before winding up in a New Orleans halfway house for troubled girls. "Whatever you're running from won't find you here," says the therapist at the place, who's way off base there.

      Early on director-cowriter Ed Gass-Donnelly (Small Town Murder Songs) does nice work injecting the exotic Mardi Gras vibe of the Big Easy into things, peppering the score with bluesy guitar licks. And his use of standard jump shocks—a dog suddenly barking behind a fence, a radio tuning into a shrill station—is quite effective. He also proves once and for all just how seriously creepy mimes can be.

      But about halfway through—around the time that Nell's housemates discover a YouTube video of her getting all Linda Blair on viewers' asses—the shocks become less compelling, like when a church gets pelted by kamikaze birds. The avian-suicide thing wasn't that scary when we saw it last week in Dark Skies.

      The now fear-challenged plot leads predictably to a voodoo-style exorcism where the plan is to strap Nell to a table, summon the demon by writing its name on her belly, and then transfer it into the body of a nearby chicken, which will then be quickly slaughtered—if it doesn't go on a satanic pecking spree first.

      "Don't worry," the exorcist says, "the chicken won't feel a thing."

      And neither will you, by that point.

      Watch the trailer for The Last Exorcism Part II.

      You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at @earofnewt.

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      Mar 3, 2013 at 11:44am

      If you want to see the movie then you need to go on a website.

      Just type or copy paste ==>

      A. MacInnis

      Mar 3, 2013 at 12:10pm

      My favourite use of the avian suicide meme is Red Lights.

      Is it just me, or is there something about MOTHS happening in horror lately? (That Jeffrey Dean Morgan dybbuk-box thing had moths, and - didn't Mama have moths?). I feel like I keep seeing birds smash into windows and moths fly out of people's mouths.

      Martin Dunphy

      Mar 3, 2013 at 1:53pm

      <em>Silence of the Lambs</em> featured a moth rather prominently.
      And Gandalf seemed overly familiar with them in...well, you know.
      And I never saw it, but <em>Mothman Prophecies</em>?

      Adrian Mack

      Mar 3, 2013 at 3:54pm

      That was a MothMAN. C'mon.

      Martin Dunphy

      Mar 3, 2013 at 5:59pm

      Point taken.
      But it all started with Mothra.
      Who begat Blogra...(gratuitous plug)