THE LAST EXORCISM Review

by     Posted 3 years, 242 days ago

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Despite every bad trend that lies in waiting for The Last Exorcism to fall into, director Daniel Stamm deftly provides the route for this “found-footage” horror to excel and give us a lean and thrilling character study with scary results. Certain rules simply do not exist as a subtle but involving musical score accompanies the story of a reverend that is out to disprove exorcisms by unwittingly taking on a final challenge that puts everything in doubt. The film is all the more remarkable for the sparse special effects and the PG-13 rating that defies the odds with crafty camerawork. For those not seeking the blood bath often associated with horror these days and willing to put up with a genuine storyline being established in the first third, you will be rewarded with a horror flick that makes you think more than it will make you jump.

The film begins with the history of small-town Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), and how he has been surrounded by religion from birth as he grew up a son of the minister at the same church. Marcus is boisterous and energetic, and shows his control over his audience during his sermons. However, preaching isn’t his only job. Marcus comes from a long lineage of exorcists, which is where the heart of the film lies. The reverend openly admits that while he has participated in hundreds of exorcisms, none of them have truly been bouts with demonic possession. When he reads about a fatal exorcism, he realizes he has to expose the fraud for what it is so he enlists a camera crew to follow him for a final expose. However, things quickly turn upside down when Marcus and crew arrive at Sweetzer farm, where Nell (Ashley Bell) is believed by her father and brother to be possessed by a demon.

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What we are left with is a horror film that spends quite a bit of time setting up the characters and story before everything is lost in the maelstrom. When you consider The Last Exorcism only lasts 87 minutes, the story could alienate select audience members who are looking for quick and cheap thrills. For those patient enough, the payoff is worth the wait. Part of the charm of the film is the “found-footage” format which has a nasty habit of turning off certain onlookers before anything is. While The Last Exorcism doesn’t break huge barriers, they never present the film as a true story; instead relying on the message they leave to chill you. Additionally, there is an involving score by Nathan Barr that is unusual in this genre for obvious reasons, but the end result is never intrusive and ultimately helps the film. Tension in the score doesn’t always foreshadow an immediate jump, and sometimes the payoff comes when you are least expecting it.

While new ground isn’t broken by cinematographer Zoltan Honti, the fact that the film secured a PG-13 rating with a limited amount of changes speaks volumes for his talent to instill terror in the audience with the most gruesome parts happening just off screen. Some might scoff at the general idea of PG-13 horror films, or the feeling that punches are being pulled by not showing gruesomely violence, but I will always remain steadfast in the ideal that what we don’t see can be just as effective. You are afraid of the dark because you can’t see what is lurking in the shadows, and your imagination is free to run wild with what isn’t being shown here. Of course, that isn’t to say that the film is free from blood and gore, as one scene of a knife wound had me and other members audibly gasp. Adding onto the topic of the rating, the fact that Nell’s father is a religious man, along with Marcus, means that the lack of f-bombs doesn’t feel forced, and instead fits in incredibly well with the dynamic that was setup in the first portion of the film. Perhaps Eli Roth’s involvement (he produced it) and enthusiasm for this film can help win some people over as well.

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Of course, all of the story in the world would be lost in the wind if the acting in the film wasn’t worth a damn. Thankfully, they not only scored a believable lead in Fabian, but hit a homerun with Bell. Fabian’s importance to the film is easy to understand. He is the one almost always in the camera’s eye, and he often has to show the plethora of emotions for audiences to understand what may or may not be seen, without overacting. His fall from the smooth talking man in the church to one suddenly at loss for words is a powerful change that showcases just how deep the hole that Cotton Marcus finds himself in. When it comes to Ashley Bell, her importance is trickier to describe. Suffice it to say that she walks the tightrope of psychosis incredibly well, never showing her full hand, and leaving audiences guessing. But where Bell truly nails her role is the contortionist act she pulls that will have you talking long after the film is over. Her parts were not special effects, and the fact that I even have to state that tells you something about what is in store for her character.

For those looking for a scary film, you will have to temper expectations. Sure, there are scares to be had, as one woman next to me nearly fell out of her seat during the screening, but they are earned instead of simply given. The real treat here is the story and the ability to set up expectation, and then quickly swerve in a different direction, leaving you guessing what is truly happening. We are given a limited viewpoint, and left to fill in the blanks with our mind. The tagline, “If you believe in God, then you believe in the devil,” is a perfect representation of what director Daniel Stamm and crew are going for. They challenge Marcus’ beliefs, which may simultaneously challenge your own as well.

In the end, your ability to push past any previous misgivings about the “found-footage” format will have a heavy influence on how much you can enjoy The Last Exorcism. For those that don’t mind hurdling the genre’s limitations, you will reap the benefits of a horror film that has more to offer than just a few thrills or grotesque violence. Despite the film’s miniscule budget and runtime, what Stamm achieves shows just how bloated and ineffective many films with 10 times the budget can be. We are left with a raw and lean horror film that leaves much to be discussed and dissected after the lights come up. With a mesmerizing performance by Ashley Bell and a haunting theme and storyline, The Last Exorcism is elevated beyond the average horror film and shows that even in a world where so much is rehashed and carved from the same stone, surprises can still be had.

Rating: B+

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  • Swedishskinjer

    Some of the things that you praise are precisely what lessened the impact of the film for me. For example, if it's “lost footage” from a documentary that was never finished, then why would there be a musical score? It breaks the sense of immersion from the “realness” that the film tries to create. Too often the camera gets the right shot at exactly the right moment when the story requires it.

  • Trick

    Im still trying to figure out the message/theme

    So is it a movie in defense of Christianity/the belief in God?
    or should churches consider it blasphemy?

    • Did you know

      blasphemy is among society. For all those that “ride” Jesus on their necklaces, images on their cars, and idolize money, per say, bank account members for the love of money is the root of all evil. Society is materialized by technology, innovation and the power of influence that has lead to their disarray leaving them lost. They only live for the lust of money to get what they want, most of them living hypocritical lives. Some may go to church but really never put Jesus into mind. They all fall to lucifer leads by our government and the federal reserve(Bank). Man will live and die by the machine. An excorcism aint saving shit cause if thats the solution then the Church needs to open a clinic for that shit.

  • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

    I think you have to suspend disbelief when watching any kind of “found-footage” film. Obviously, this isn't real. So, the score being there doesn't bother me at all. Hell, if you want to get really picky, you are watching found-footage that has been released through a studio. Why wouldn't they add a nice score to the finished product they show?

    I mean, you aren't watching this film on a 12 inch monitor at police headquarters. You are watching it in a large theater. To me, the music gave it a bit of an underlying tension. It was a nice change of pace.

    The film isn't for everyone, and maybe there will be more people like you that have a problem with the score. Are you generally a fan of the found-footage genre? That, as I stated many times, is going to be the biggest hurdle for mainstream audiences.

  • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

    Well, it depends on what you think, ultimately. I can't sit here and say what IS and ISN'T the message. All I can do is give my analysis, without spoiling the film.

    Basically, the Catholic church has registered exorcists. This is as true as it gets. So, does that mean that demons and the devil can possess our bodies (we are just vessels, although the Bible would have us believe we are holy vessels)? Or is it a hoax? Do you BELIEVE in demonic possession? Because the Catholic church certainly seems to imply that it does.

    There is a lot of different ways to view the message the film gives. It's a tricky one.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D2CRGJGS6PF2VWXWDY27V7RU4M Ashley Jensen

    Have you guys seen these Chat Roulette reactions to the Last Exorcism prank? HAHA I haven't laughed this hard in a while this is f-ing great! http://bit.ly/catJ8g

  • Pingback: The Last Exorcism - Los Angeles Kings Hockey Fan Forum

  • Komodo1985

    great acting, great movie, but terrible ending

  • Trewhlmotn

    this movie sucks you will do as me an dmy wife and get a refund natomas gave 90 people their money back

  • a person with good taste

    dumbest fucking movie on the face of the earth i would rather shove a shotgun barrel up my own ass and pull the trigger with my big toe!!!!!!!!

    eli roth. . . your a piece of shit and i want my 10.50 back!

  • Mr Horror fan

    Take the Blaire witch and turn it into an exorcism,..you get this, one poster has her walking on the wall almost on the roof, that never happens in the theoretical version i saw today in theaters….overall i am a horror / suspense fan so i recommend viewing it but be prepared for a senseless quick unfolding at the end like Blaire witch pt 1. this truly isn’t anything past a pg-13 because the demon doesn’t sell itself as much, it actually seems to have fear and compassion at certain times for the guests if you examine it’s behavior closely… A cool one time watch thing..i don’t think i wasted my money..will i buy this on DVD or blu-ray? No

  • Anonymous

    I would rather watch Emily Rose than this. I’m sorry, but this one is fake.

    I’m fearing that Paranormal Activity 2 (Paranormal Entity) Would end up as bad as this one.

    • pickle

      dont be a fag

    • Cristine

      i agree of what you said.i am not really satisfied of i’d watched.i am dissappointed of it.

  • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

    This one is fake!? What news are you breaking?

  • Glbold

    No, its just movie. Why does it have to contain some secret pro or anti Christian message?

    Its theme?

    Its scary. Its a movie to go see and be entertained for a few hrs.

  • Glbold

    The vast majority of horror movies are complete garbage and cost 10x what this one did to make. It was a fine little film. I would rather see it than any of the “big budget” Hollywood “scary” movies that are only scary to little kids.

    Halloween XVIIIXVIIIII or Nightmare on Elm Street XVXIIIXXVVIIIIII Pfft. Crap for teens so they have something to do after toking up.

  • Glbold

    The vast majority of horror movies are complete garbage and cost 10x what this one did to make. It was a fine little film. I would rather see it than any of the “big budget” Hollywood “scary” movies that are only scary to little kids.

    Halloween XVIIIXVIIIII or Nightmare on Elm Street XVXIIIXXVVIIIIII Pfft. Crap for teens so they have something to do after toking up.

  • Drewwr

    Okay, I’m sick of reading about the great qualities this movie holds by well known businesses. I just saw the movie and it was so dumb, and possibly had the worst ending of all time (no exaggeration). I’ve never been to a movie that was booed by the entire crowd, leaving EVERYONE disappointed! Wasn’t that scary which everyone is praising over, but really? I never post comments either especially over movies, but this one I had to it was so bad, and if you asked the audience I was with, they will unanimously agree that the movie was pathetic. This movie documents a con artist Reverend but let’s be serious I think the director and producers of this movie are the real con artists. You got me, I did waste my time and money on a movie I thought was going to be as “mind twisting” as Inception, and I actually think Inception spooked me out more than this movie. There was no mind twists and the movie became childish at the end…probably that’s why it’s PG-13! Good job…not. Let me stress again how this was honestly the first time I was at a movie in which EVERYONE booed. At least scare us next time then maybe you can get away with the shitty ending no one liked.

  • kaykay

    WHAT WAS THE POINT??? was the first exorcism he performed fake? second one , real? is the demon gone? who got her pregnant? why did the son kill the camera man? did the girl die? its like the movie ended at the middle / near ending of the movie!!!! ugghh , lately all these new movies coming out seem to be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good/scary/funny , and they end up being shittttyyy .

    • dEMIAN

      @kaykay :

      1. All of them were fake, he told that in the beginning of the movie.
      2. The demon was not gone, in fact, the demon was born in the last scene.
      3. The demon was the father of that abomination, or the “dark spirit”.
      4. Early in the movie, the locals told to the crew that there was some kind of sect in the area, so, the brother oh nell was a member of that one (as the reverend and a lot of people).
      5. The demon in the end was ready to take the body of the girl, maybe the pastor stop him? I dont know, but the demon told him : You will burn in the fire too, so, let´s suppose that he died, he found is faith but he died…

  • Shortstuff606

    i dont understand what the son was doing at the end. like why did he kill everyone?

  • Shortstuff606

    i dont understand what the son was doing at the end. like why did he kill everyone?

    • PICKLE

      CUZ THEY DIDNT WANT ANYONE KNOWING ABOUT THERE CULT

  • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

    The movie is a “found-footage” film. Who would be filming what happens after the camera man dies?

    • http://twitter.com/HannaHiltoN89 hanna hilton

      i just wondering about Caleb at the ending.. can u tell me? for me, this movie is cool. great storyline. i don’t know why many people hating and whining bout this movie, but i think its cool! bout the ending also cool.. dramatic. it’s not that sucks anyway..

  • Jake

    i completely agree, people try to find themes in movies, but in most horror movies they directors don’t think about theme. They just try to scare the crowd for 2 hours.

  • Jake

    omg when i saw the movie too, i was amazed because i have never been in a movie theater and seen that every single person booed and said how much it sucked.

  • Jake

    omg when i saw the movie too, i was amazed because i have never been in a movie theater and seen that every single person booed and said how much it sucked.

  • JakeM

    i was surprised when he killed the guy cause i thought that he was still in the hospital

  • JakeM

    i was surprised when he killed the guy cause i thought that he was still in the hospital

  • Cheerios_rios

    um no duh it is fake lols helloo its a mockumentary if u read closely you will know, and stuff like this STILL happens and are true!. if you see someone bend like that you would not think she was crazy!

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    remember back when he said “if you hurt her, then ill hurt you”…well there are a bunch of theories that maybe both of the children are possessed and the brother raped the daughter and they had a kid bla bla bla…but the point is is that maybe the brother’s demon is just being protective, but then of course why wuldd she cut him?

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    Quit complaining about the ending people….cliffhangers are a good sign of possible sequels (look at the saw series) and even if it didnt then it was meant to let u come up with your own ending…its like moving from books with pictures to just words, you cant expect to always be shown everything…if you go to a “found footage” movie then you have to be prepared for stuff like this so stop whining

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    actually that poster was just the part where after she jumped from the dresser and started to crawl backwards upside down, thats it

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    actually that poster was just the part where after she jumped from the dresser and started to crawl backwards upside down, thats it

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    lol blaming the producer because you had no common sense to look up a movie you were about to spend 10.50 on (which is a bullshit price anyway) thats 100% your fault

    • aminah

      True. I totally agree with u

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    why do people pick on the so subtle details of the movie…honestly i was so into the movie i didnt even really notice the music

  • Darkx_johnnyo

    who cares…its a movie, movies are meant for entertainment not always for messages…people try and think way to hard about movies

  • Ken O

    A camera.. showing the correct shot, at the appropriate time? Say it ain’t so.. even in my home movies I know my way around the camera enough to keep things in frame. I hate how people have to be damn near retarded for anyone to associate with them in movies these days.

  • Liam

    You do know that Paranormal Activity 2 and Paranormal Entity are two different films, yes?

  • Liam

    You do know that Paranormal Activity 2 and Paranormal Entity are two different films, yes?

  • Anonymous

    Many of the things have mentioned in the movie was very much the truth. in the mean time of seen the movie i really have learns that the movie making is not been so easy as recording and now this has been a sensible movie making for every age, but not good movie for kids.

    source
    http://blog.80millionmoviesfree.com/in-theaters/watch-the-last-exorcism-online

  • Revan

    I liked the movie, Im not real big on religion but I felt the movie did a good job of giving different views on what was going on. on one hand you are given very real psychological reasons for what is going on while at the same time you find yourself thinking that maybe something very unnatural is happening

  • Jjprinesses

    i can bend like that and so can gymnast

  • Jjprinesses

    opps read it wrong

  • Jjprinesses

    exactly it made no sense at the end

  • Melindacurrence

    Saw this movie tonight… not good. Not near the scare as portrayed in the preview. I had chills when I saw the preview, but I basically saw the whole movie in the preview. Ending was done very poorly. Was so excited for a good scary movie, now disappointed :(

  • Svondette

    i saw this movie as well tonight. I liked the movie because i myself believe in this stuff…but I think all that say this movie sucked and was not scary at all are just not giving the whole idea a shot. You have to have some kind of belief in the idea of demonic possession for it to be scary.
    I also have an idea of the ending. I think that the whole town pretty much was “evil” in a sense. The priest was the leader of the cult and threw that party for the girl. So im assuming thats how she became possessed they used her because she was innocent and the demon excepted her. Then the priest raped her and thats how she became pregnant. Just a thought

    • vane

      i believe in demonic possession but i didnt find it scary honostly, and im easly scared

  • Doug4867

    Its an exorcism movie….if it doesn’t leave you with pissed pants then it didn’t do its job. The ending sucked and wasn’t as terrifying as the past exorcist movies.

    My opinion….I’ve seen better.

  • Biged52

    I agree. Saw it tonite, and at the end the audience was saying, “What a stupid movie!” and asking for money back. Bottom line: It took what could have been an interesting premise and story line, and blew it completely at the end. It sucked. It does not live up to the legacy of past exorcist movies, and sadly – this may truly be the LAST exorcism. Save your money.

  • Biged52

    I agree. Saw it tonite, and at the end the audience was saying, “What a stupid movie!” and asking for money back. Bottom line: It took what could have been an interesting premise and story line, and blew it completely at the end. It sucked. It does not live up to the legacy of past exorcist movies, and sadly – this may truly be the LAST exorcism. Save your money.

  • Ben Hallow

    This was the worst movie iv ever seen. The first half hour of the movie is about a priest that no one cares about. The first half is boring, it shows the stupid tricks he does, then it gets good for maybe 10min. After that it get crappy and lame again. I would say the best part of the movie is the last 5min, the last 5min should have been expanded into the whole movie. Over all it was a complete wast of money, and my life. .5/10

  • Sandymanny

    Picture someone attempting to reinvent blair witch, cloverfield, and paranormal a. and tried to give it a little umph.

    Unfortunately, there will never be a good justification to “mainstream eye-catching propagandas” all over town promoting a what turns out to be a “found-footage” movie… we feel we got duped, it’s movie-making taken for granted… people were laughing inside the movie house! it’s a get-rich-quick hollywood scheme fueled by people’s intrigue otherwise known as the proverbial hook and bait…. found-footage films will always be considered a trap, “with my $10,000 i can trick people into believing that this movie’s the bomb with this dead-on scary poster, then i’ll make millions!!”.. where have all the people, who see to it that the essentials of film are put into perspective, gone?

  • Sandymanny

    Picture someone attempting to reinvent blair witch, cloverfield, and paranormal a. and tried to give it a little umph.

    Unfortunately, there will never be a good justification to “mainstream eye-catching propagandas” all over town promoting a what turns out to be a “found-footage” movie… we feel we got duped, it’s movie-making taken for granted… people were laughing inside the movie house! it’s a get-rich-quick hollywood scheme fueled by people’s intrigue otherwise known as the proverbial hook and bait…. found-footage films will always be considered a trap, “with my $10,000 i can trick people into believing that this movie’s the bomb with this dead-on scary poster, then i’ll make millions!!”.. where have all the people, who see to it that the essentials of film are put into perspective, gone?

  • http://twitter.com/louiseiram louiloo

    I agree. i also think of it that way. the town was occupied with some cult jerks and she was the “chosen-one”. at first i thought, it was the father who impregnated her or her brother.

    I liked the movie by the way. it got me thinking and i enjoyed it, when i think. haha. got no sense. =)

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