The Last Exorcism (2010)
Directed by Daniel Stamm Writtten by Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland
I’m sure it’s rare you find someone who hasn’t heard of some type of film relating to the topic of exorcism. There was even a short time period in which it felt like it was all the craze and completely became worn out. So my initial thought of The Last Exorcism was quite honestly “Oh, so is the next film that comes out going to be the last LAST exorcism?”
Even if you’ve only seen one film that discusses the topic of exorcism, you more or less know where they’re going to go with the script. However I was extremely surprised to see where those behind The Last Exorcism decided to take the film. It follows a preacher by the name of Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian” who is “getting outa the biz” and decides to let a documentary crew film what is supposed to be his last exorcism. However Cotton didn’t necessarily believe in the art he practiced and thought all he really sold was a show for his customers. In the end they believed their demon was gone, he got paid and everyone ends up happy. So it would only make perfect sense that sense he vowed to no longer practice exorcisms that he would also come in contact with his only true experience. Stupid documentary cameras.
As stated, the film was shot with the intention of being able to be pulled off as a real documentary. It did a good enough job however lost me a bit towards the end, but we’ll get there. The movie has all the real aspects of being a documentary. There’s plenty interaction with the camera crew which was eventually able to add to the Horror element because the movie does take some time easing into the actual events of the exorcism. It also helped to build the suspense throughout the film because of the unnoticeable frames due to moments spent running or times when the camera was turned off. It was able to enhance the fear without making it too impractical because you were following the documentary crew through their journey.
The film initially starts out smart as far as the direction it seemed to be going in. Patrick Fabian played the role of a pastor who had started preaching at a very young age and was somewhat thrown into being a man of God without necessarily wanting the title. As he got older and married he had a son that they almost lost and it was in those moments that he begin questioning everything his father had taught him growing up. Fabian, who unfortunately I had not seen in movies prior, was able to bring a real charisma to his character that made him very likable. As much as I found the storyline losing me at the end, he remained the one constant great thing about the film.
The young woman possessed played by Ashley Bell was found after only one other audition and was another fine choice for the role. It is rare you see an entire cast of fresh faces and they are all able to do their roles justice. Nell, Bell’s character, lost her mother two years prior and ever since had been kept under some form of house arrest by her father. Believing the world to have strayed too far from the teachings of the Bible and insisted on home schooling. The big thing I kept hearing about when this movie came out was that Bell was able to perform the contortions on her own without the help of CGI. Yet there was really only one part it particularly pertained too and I expected it to be a bit creepier. While the documentary in the film was primarily about Nell, and she was good in it, I found she wasn’t able to steal away attention from the other actors unless she was under possession. Which didn’t happen as often as I would have imagined.
The problem that I had with the ending being that one could argue there were two endings. The first could have easily been the logical closing point happening after the pastor and crew start to head back home. But after stopping in town to research one last thing, find that they had been lied to and return to see if Nell was okay. What happens for the next 10 minutes or so can only be described as an almost too ridicules way to end such a good movie. And it ties in; it wasn’t like it was completely out of nowhere. Throughout the film there are certain topics discussed, mainly while the crew is heading out to the farm to visit the family that hint at the possibility of what eventually does occur. But it’s what I believe made the movies ending “suck” as seen on several forums. While keeping in mind that Horror movies usually aim to push for that questionable ending with hints at a possible sequel (which is due out next year) made the story seem just plain bizarre and almost unnecessary.