When it comes to horror sequels and remakes, it's a pity that filmmakers don't heed the warning given to on-screen characters time and time again: leave well enough alone. How many times have great or perfectly good movies had their reputations besmirched by what followed? 2010's The Last Exorcism was a sweaty slice of down South nastiness that made the most of its found footage format and cast of unknowns. The sequel ditches the Handycam feel, brings lead demon bait character Nell (Bell) to the big city and loses plenty – including original director Daniel Stamm - along the way.

Having survived the human cookout at the end of the original movie (unfortunately now to be known as The Second Last Exorcism), farmer's daughter Nell escapes to New Orleans where she is psychiatrically assessed and placed in a halfway house for troubled young women. There, life seems to slowly improve for the painfully shy teenager with friends, a job, and the interest of a boy helping to ease the pain. However, it's not long before things start to go bump in the night again, and the city begins to feel like it's closing in on Nell. So, is it all in her head, or is the demon Abalam still intent on having his favourite girl?

The numbers don't lie: The Last Exorcism was made for under $2m and took almost $68m at the box office; this letdown had a budget of $5m and so far has pulled in $16m. Bravo to savvy punters for giving it a miss, because the gripes start piling up here soon after the shocker opening and continue right until the very end.

The main ones? Despite the story taking place directly after the events of the first movie, the character of Nell looks older. There's a feeling that the writers weren't sure exactly what to do with the story and the movie doesn't make the most of New Orleans as a location. Most galling of all, good supporting characters, who could've done a lot for the plot, are introduced far too late to save it.

Granted, there are a couple of good jumps, but not enough to justify the price of a ticket. The Conjuring is out at the start of August and looks like a far better option for that money.

The end is here – we hope.

Harry Guerin

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