Abandoning the found footage trope failed to work for horror sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, nor does it pay dividends for the similarly dire The Last Exorcism 2. In place of the shaky camera emerges a very wobbly plot that leaves nobody trembling, an awkward regurgitation of cheap and overused shock tactics that flails its contorted limbs in search of a genuine scare to grab hold of.
2010's The Last Exorcism managed to muster a reasonable degree of interest through the strength of its lead character Reverend Cotton Marcus, a captivating yet phoney exorcist who stumbles across the real thing. The teenage subject of the possession, Ashley Bell's country girl Nell, is the focus of a sequel which tracks her placement in a New Orleans foster home and subsequent attempts to fend off the demonic beast Abalam.
Many flashbacks to the superior predecessor ensue, alongside an abundance of CHEAP SHOCKS. You know the type - someone calmly walks along the pavement only for a barking canine to suddenly leap into the frame accompanied by a jolt of sound as it crashes against the fence and startles the pedestrian; the sounds on a radio turn to static interference; a supposedly dead person is sighted across the road but vanishes when a car passes in front; a lead character experiences a moment of horror only to wake up and discover it was just a dream. These are all overfamiliar tropes relied upon by a film that's bereft of innovation, intensity and gore.
Ashley Bell manages to emerge from the mess with credit, for her sensual performance makes us empathise with the plight of Nell as she desperately tries and fails to find a life that resembles normality. This is despite being given little else to do for 80% of the movie apart from moping around with a furrowed brow fearing everyone she sees is an embodiment of Abalam. Fortunately, her furrowed brow is impeccable. Give it its own Twitter account.
There's little else to be said about this ill-advised venture, which seems to have been made without any artistic aspirations and purely because its predecessor was an unexpected hit at the box office. Those brave souls who do venture to the cinema to witness this demonic dirge can at least feel relieved that it's nowhere near as dismal a viewing experience as The Devil Inside. Plus the running time is mercifully short. Scant consolation indeed.