The Last Exorcism

I guess this is my month for hand-held shaky-camera movies!

The other night, I watched The Last Exorcism. Like The Blair Witch Project,  [●REC] and Paranormal Activity, this is a movie of the pseudo-documentary ‘found-footage’ genre.

I must admit, I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. The Devil went down to Louisiana, he was looking for a soul to steal… and he possesses him a sixteen year old girl. Yeehaw! It’sThe Exorcist with hot sauce. Ah cain’t wait! I whipped up some (kosher) Louisiana style sausage, red beans and rice, sat my jaded, cynical butt down in my wingback armchair and prepared to have myself a bit of fun at the mock-doc’s expense.

Well, let me tell you… what a delightfully pleasant surprise! A low-budget, low-key, well-acted horror movie with a great story and some genuine scares. You actually care about the main characters in this film. At least I did.

OK, here’s the deal… it starts off with this smarmy, slick former minister/exorcist/conman who has given up on the bible thumping and casting out of demons and is now a non-believer hell-bent (pun maybe intended) on exposing exorcists as charlatans of the kind that he used to be. The premise of the movie is that he is going to do one last exorcism and take with him a video team so he can show everyone how he ‘exorcises’ the demons, revealing all his secrets and magic tricks along the way. He says that he did not believe he was defrauding people when he performed his fake exorcisms since he gave them what they wanted in the manner they wanted it and, in the end, they felt better and he had several hundred dollars in his pocket. The documentary is meant to ‘set the record straight.’ His final exorcism takes him to some remote place in the Louisiana countryside where he meets a concerned father (who wrote a letter to the Reverend asking for the exorcist’s help), the father’s cynical son and… the sweet, charming daughter Nell, whom the father suspects of being possessed and killing some of his livestock.

The Reverend sets up his usual props and gadgets in Nell’s room, performs the usual exorcism, banishing the usual demon, leaving the customers relieved and happy, as usual, and departing with a pocketful of money, as usual, with the whole thing recorded on video tape. He and the crew turn in at a local motel for the night before going home.

That’s when things start going ‘off script’ in a very NOT usual way. Nell appears in the Reverend’s motel room, disoriented and confused. He and the crew take her to the hospital. Dad shows up and doesn’t want any psychological tests done on his daughter. Eventually, everyone ends up back at the house and things get totally out of control. Mayhem ensues and the Reverend begins to realize that for the first time in his life, he may be dealing with the Real McCoy. Things get more and more intense and insane as things spin wildly out of control. There are disturbing pieces of artwork by Nell and an even more disturbing phone message concerning Nell. And then there’s Nell herself and she’s at best one very disturbed girl! The gumbo really hits the fan when the father convinces the Reverend to do one more exorcism to try and save his daughter. The last exorcism in the barn is as real and terrifying as the one in Nell’s bedroom was fake and hokey. And just when you think things have come to an end, the movie grabs you and squeezes you one last time. The ending left my heart pounding and my fingers gripping the arms of my wingback chair.

Patrick Fabian plays the smiling, smooth showman Rev. Cotton Marcus to a tee. Ashley Bell’s wonderful performance makes the daughter Nell adorable, trusting, innocent and completely believable… and when needed absolutely terrifying! [1]

The Last Exorcism is co-produced by nice Jewish boy Eli Roth. If a movie has Eli Roth’s name on it in just about any capacity, whether it’s as director, writer, producer, actor, key grip, whatever, I am SO there!

I had a great time watching this movie, doubly-so because it caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting such a wonderfully scary, high-quality, intense film.

See it with friends, serve them jambalaya… and then get ready to get the pants scared off of you!

Two broken, demon-possessed thumbs way up!

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[1] Did they really have to name the two main characters Cotton-Nell?

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3 comments on “The Last Exorcism

  1. Great review. I loved this movie. I saw it at the cinema last summer and it scared me senseless!

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