The Last Exorcism
Written by Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland
Directed by Daniel Stamm
2010 - Lionsgate
Cast: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell.
Eclectic Rating: stars
Reverend Cotton Marcus is an admitted charlatan, a fraud, deceiving believers because he claims it helps them. He fakes his exorcisms too. But this time the joke might be on him...
I passed this one by so many times because I was afraid it would just be yet another bad Exorcist knock-off. It's the same reason I looked with distain upon any werewolf movie after seeing American Werewolf in London years ago. In my mind nothing could compare. I guess I didn't want to spoil the magic and awe of what I consider one of my favorite films, but I see now that other fine films can be produced in those horror sub-genres.
I watched The Last Exorcism with an open mind, and I was not disappointed.
After reading the little plot excerpt I had to watch it. The snippet I read that tells us that the main character, Reverend Cotton Marcus (just a tad archaic), is admittedly a charlatan, a fraud. He admits that the only reason he wants to preach and entertain his congregation is so they keep coming back and filling up the offering plate. The same reason his father was a preacher.
The movie is shot in a documentary style because what we are watching is a documentary being filmed of Cotton Marcus explaining his angle on religion, belief, and deception. He claims that on some level he is actually offering a service that helps people, even though he is fooling them. He's giving them what they want, or what they believe, in an effort to cure them.
To prove how easy it is to cure people of the tormenting evil in their lives, he plans to respond to a request for an exorcism. It will be his last, and it will be filmed so that he can show how he sets up his gadgets and uses sleight of hand to convince people that what they are seeing, and what they believe, is real.
On the way to their destination Marcus and his two-person film crew encounter the locals of Louisiana, and he wryly plays into their beliefs and superstitions by asking directions to scenes of cult activity or UFO landing sights. Many are happy to oblige, and know of it all, even though the places or events are contrived. Made up on the spot by the locals, even after being prompted by Marcus' phoney suggestions.
Once they arrive at the location of the exorcism things get strange, and stranger. This is when the film starts getting good. The slow pace is countered by little scares, moments of excitement, and the hand-held camera lends to the realism. The film is really spooky at times, and actually creeped me out. Downright brutal at times too.
They meet a father, his son and his daughter, the latter who is the alleged possessed. Marcus figures this will be an easy one, and proceeds with his usual game to earn their trust and faith. Then he sets up to perform an exorcism on the girl. His effects work perfectly and the family, except for the boy (watch it), fall for it hook line and sinker, or, in this case... hoof, horn and demon. Sorry.
In cheesy Exorcist-copy-cat fashion, of course, the Reverend falls to the floor after uttering to the demon "Take me!" or something to that effect. But it's okay, he's faking it. He pretends to be possessed, convulses a bit, then ends his charade with the smoking crucifix effect. Brilliant! Everyone is relieved that the demon is out of the girl.
Not so fast. Things get really screwed up now. The girl shows up at the Reverend's motel room and appears to be possessed for real. Now Marcus must reevaluate. Is there something supernatural at hand, or is this girl just a mixed up kid who's mind was tweaked by some unfortunate incident?
Ultimately, Marcus and his crew find themselves knee-deep in some Louisiana muck. And it's not what you think.
That's all I can say or I'll give away the whole plot. Let me end by saying that his is a clever, well made film with a lot of spirit. Enjoy it. I did.
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Last Update: 10 May, 2019