Movie Reviews 107 – The Last Exorcism (2010)

The Last ExorcismNow that the sequel is out, I thought it was high time I plunked in my disc of The Last Exorcism and see if it was sequel worthy in the first place.

I must first point out that I hate POV and mock documentary style movies in general. Very few of these are actually enhanced by this style of storytelling or have any actual advantage to being told in that manner. District 9 and REC are some exceptions that come to mind, but the field is rampant with failed offerings that include Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Apollo 18, and yes, even Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

So how did The Last Exorcism fare? Not bad at first. One reason was that the filmmakers played around a bit with the very notion of what they were filming. At first, we are led to believe that a film crew will simply be following faith practitioner Reverend Cotton Marcus on an exorcism, him being a well versed and seasoned practitioner who’s performed the ritual many times before. We even see his own father (a past practitioner himself) handing him down some great book of demonology.  But before you can shout “The power of Christ compels you!” the tables are turned and our Cotton (gotta love that name) confesses that it is all a sham and what he really wants to document is the gullibility and naivete of those seeking exorcisms.

The plot them shifts to the film crew documenting Cotton’s staging of a fake exorcism having randomly chosen one of many applicants claiming a soul that needs cleansing. The chosen subject is a young girl living on a family farm with her brother and father. Cotton, with film crew in tow, convinces the farmer, obviously shaken up by his daughter’s ‘possession’ to allow him to film everything. There are of course easily explainable, non-demonic explanations for what evidence the family posits as proof of possession when the young girl supposedly lapses into such a state. Some alternate explanations are decidedly evil but of the human evil variety.

Cotton performs the scam exorcism with all his faux theatrics and documents how the family will now rest in peace, believing that the evil in their midst has been released.

But when the girl shows up in Cotton’s hotel room in town in the middle of the night, Cotton and the crew have had enough. They bring the girl to the local hospital and then try to confront the father with what they believe is a dose of reality and hopefully a bit of good old science to fix the real problem. But the father takes the girl back to the farm and Cotton and crew follow them back in an attempt to change their minds. But it is Cotton and his crew who have an abrupt change of mind when they witness what is really going on.

While I enjoyed the descent into darkness at the end and the overall story, the end was not nearly as interesting as the whole fake exorcism set up at the beginning. It was almost a let down despite the obvious direction of what Cotton and his crew were going to find based on the title and genre of the movie.

Also unexpected was the fact that the movie was not a pointed exposition of religion in general as even though Cotton himself believes that most of these demonic possessions are purely psychological issues and ones that can be remedied by science, his religious faith and beliefs are never questioned either. His motives to demonstrate the non-demonic illusion of exorcism are altruistic and even personal. So there is no real preaching one way or the other.

I will now be kind and refrain from commenting on how The Last Exorcism could even have a sequel, when, um, you know, it was … the LAST! Not quite it would appear.

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One Response to “Movie Reviews 107 – The Last Exorcism (2010)”

  1. Logan Krum Movie Reviews Says:

    This is actually one of my favorite horror movies ever. Part 2? Not so much. Nice writing! You gained a new follower.

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