In nature, mimicry and camouflage are used as a defense against predators. Whether it is the protective coloring of some species or even the clever anatomy of a stick bug, these mechanism help protect the weak or otherwise helpless. Hollywood has taken this idea and, of course, applied it to films, allowing lesser movies to ride the coattails of better movies to make money they don’t deserve.

Just like, “The Last Exorcism: Part 2”

“Part 2” refreshes us with a montage of the events of the first film. When we return to the present, we find Nell (once again played by Ashley Bell) has broken into a home following her trauma and then is turned over to the authorities. They clean her up and ship her off to a halfway house full of other girls… if you call four a full house. She quickly makes progress and things are looking up for her: she has friends, the cute guy at work is making goo-goo eyes at her and masked figures are stalking her during Mardi Gras precipitating the return of the demon, Abalam – wasn’t that a Genesis album?

Written and directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly (with some writing and story help from Damien Chazelle) and produced by Eli Roth (who also brought us the first one), “Part 2” is a sham and a charade. Everything that made the first story so fresh and so potent – most notably the attention they paid to developing characters – has been taken out and replaced it with generic horror tropes. Without that strong foundation, they could have easily renamed the characters, slapped a different name on this and it would still be the same movie. Nothing about it made this a uniquely “Last Exorcism” movie. Sure you had Ashley Bell reprise her role, but here, Nell is just another girl who’s run afoul of the forces of darkness. She’s generic and by extension, the whole movie is generic. You could almost say it was like being given baby food: I didn’t get a movie, I got formula.

So, what positives were there? The good news for the studio is that they made this movie for a song and they made their budget back in the first weekend. Aside from that, horror fans should feel insulted to be constantly being served up this ignorant, derivative fare. It’s doesn’t even fall into the beloved “so bad, it’s good” category. It’s just bad.

“The Last Exorcism: Part 2” feels like an impostor posing as a much better film. Disguised by the name of the much better first movie, it reveals itself to be a shallow, disjointed and depressingly ordinary film. Stick with the original.