I remember seeing the trailer for this film and saying out loud to my dog, “Sweet, I love exorcism flicks. Who can I sucker into seeing this with me?” Then the gears started grinding. Should I take my girlfriend or maybe a date? “If only I had one or could get one” I said to my dog, who gave me a reassuring lick on the hand as if to say he loved me and doesn’t understand why I am not swimming in a pool full of the womenfolk. Wait! What? It’s PG-13. Red flag. Nevermind. Oh, and the internet is all up in arms about a supposedly craptastic ending. I think I will be skipping this one. Fast forward to today. I went against the grain and picked up the Blu-ray and took it out for a spin, dog by my side (sadly, still no girlfriend – though I am currently taking applications).
For whatever reason I find “found footage” films to offer the most genuine scares. From Blair Witch to Lake Mungo, to the Paranormal Activity franchise I love ‘em all. They are just about the only genre of horror that still can force me to get up and turn on an extra light or two. Ya know, for safety. The Last Exorcism falls into this category of filmmaking and I can say with great assurance is an above average effort. If you like this kind of filmmaking, you will like this movie. Simple. And if you would rather place your balls (theoretical ones if you’re not a card carrying member of the two nuts club) in a vice grip than watch a little cinéma vérité, you will still hate it. This movie isn’t changing anyone’s mind.
Reverend Cotton Marcus is a hustler. Not the kind that steal money from hapless dimwits on TV, but the kind that swindles folks out of their hard earned dough by performing “exorcisms” for cash. And he’s quite good at his job, in fact, he’s down right famous. After hearing of a young child being killed during an exorcism, though, the Reverend has a change of heart and agrees to take part in a documentary that will expose exorcisms as a racket. The crew accompanies Cotton along to visit a man who claims his daughter is possessed. Of course, all is not what it seems when it comes to this particular girl and this particular request. Queue the creepy music.
The first exorcism is quite clever and is sure to make you laugh – and might be the high point in the film. The Reverend is no slouch, pulling out every trick in the book during the fake exorcism (electronic props, smoke, speakers, etc) which is quite convincing. It’s also a fun way to introduce the characters. Even though the Cotton is technically a bad guy, you will find yourself caring for him and even rooting for him to bamboozle the poor and uneducated. I could watch a whole movie of just him fooling the people of Louisiana, well, at least the ones whose homes haven’t been destroyed by floods or hurricanes (I kid, I kid).
Director Daniel Stamm manages to keep viewers off-balance throughout. For starters, you never know if the little girl, Nell, is actually possessed or just a psychopathic teenager. Kids these days are effin weird. Am I right? As is usually the case with these films there are some moments (from a direction standpoint) that don’t make sense. The camera people inexplicably get close ups or angles that no one would ever shoot. The biggest example being reaction shots of each other in the middle of some wild sh*t. No one in their right mind would ever point that camera anywhere else. But, hey – it makes for a more entertaining movie.
As for the end, I personally loved it. Anyone that pays attention can see if coming from a mile away and in this case that is not a bad thing. Almost any other conclusion would have cheapened the film and gave it much less “cred” as a found footage film. You can argue the directional execution of the final scene, if you really want, though. But still, good flick.
Snore Factor: ZZ (No sleep allowed)
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