The Last Exorcism
August 30, 2010
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Ever since The Blair Witch Project, studios and filmmakers everywhere have been trying to duplicate the look and feeling of the film. The best ones (The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Quarantine, and Paranormal Activity) all had a different angle on the same steadi-cam film. With exception of Cloverfield, all were rated R. In spite of the dreaded title of “PG-13 horror film”, The Last Exorcism actually works as a horror film.
The Last Exorcism follows Cotton Marcus, a reverend since he was a kid. At age 10, he successfully performs his first exorcism, and from there he becomes a bit of a local celebrity. Through his website, people learn of his past and contact him for help, almost all of them request the exorcism of a demon.
After reading a horrific article a few years back about an attempted exorcism, Marcus has changed his ways. Now he performs pseudo-exorcisms to help those who believe in the premise of a demon believe that the demon has been cast out. Marcus comes across as a sincere con-man of sorts. He knows that these people aren’t possessed but continues to profit from their fear. The camera is there to film the perpetuation of a fraud to show that many of his clients are too quick to blame the wrong scapegoat.
His “documentary” takes him to a small house in Louisiana. Here we meet a pleasant and innocent 16-year-old girl who is believed to be possessed. What follows is his attempt at a pseudo-exorcism and the realization she might actually need Marcus’ services.
Despite the simple plot, the characters and shoe-string effects make it believable. Ashley Bell, who plays Nell, managed to do all her own physical transformations without make-up or special effects. Shadows play a big part of exploring the characters, both literal and metaphorical. The film seems to have a twist every twenty minutes, which keeps the film moving and keeps the audience involved. Many will be thrown by the ending, claiming it is out of character. In my opinion, the less-is-more effects and ending gave me chills. As the credits rolled, I saw this as a PG-13 horror movie that works. It may not be scary for most who see it, but it is definitely unsettling. A great thriller that would be great for a midnight movie run. 3.5 out of 5 stars