The Last Exorcism
What now follows is a basic overlay of what they capture on film.
WHO'S THE REV? Reverent Marcus is many different things to many-many different people. To his father he is a religious prodigy. To his wife and son he is a caring husband and father. To his clergy his is a very devout man. But to himself, Cotton is a pseudo-exorcist, who plays the devil at his own game of lies and deception.
WHAT IS A PSEUDO-EXORCIST? Conceptually, what Cotton does, is put on an act, and allow people to deceive themselves into thinking that he is able to exorcise demons from a loved one. He is greatly aided in this task with the use of numerous gadgets he conceals in peoples home, thus giving them the impression that something spiritual is taking place.
WHO ARE THE SWEETZERS? The Sweetzers are a farming family living in a rural part of town, who request that Cotton exorcise a demon from a member of their family. No. It isn't Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum). This widower was the man who sent for Cotton in the first place. Plus it isn't his son Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) either. Mores the pitty. I am afraid to say that the person who need Cottons help is Louis's sweet daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell). Because over the last couple of months or so, she had been behaving quite strangely, killing cattle, and doing peculiar things without her even knowing that she is doing it.
SO CAN COTTON EXORCISE NELL? No. But he does what he normally does anyway, which seem to work at first.
Please note, I did say 'at first'.
You see, the day after Cotton's so-called 'exorcism', through no volition of her own, Nell tracks him down to the motel he is staying at. Moreover, she stabs her brother, she kills the cat, and in addition to this, she starts acting in a very aloof manner whenever she is accosted.
Pretty strange, right? Though not as strange as when Cotton intercepts a phone call, and hears that Nell was once pregnant. Also, it is not as strange as when her father, Louis, returns home after taking his son to the hospital, and says to Cotton "exorcise my daughter again, or else get off of my property or I'll shoot you".
Ouch! That must be why what next transpires is a rather biblical affair all in all? As terror is shown - the face of evil is blown - things seem to turn out OK - but the ending is one that is full of dismay.
I have to be honest with you, when I first sat down and watched 'The Last Exorcism', I was not expecting much really. Granted, I knew that this film was a combination of three movie genre's that I liked a lot (the mockumentary, comedy, and horror). But still, if truth be told, I thought at best it was going to be an OK-ish flick, and not a brilliant piece of film-making that I would then go on to see.
Well, in a rather deceiving way, this picture starts off in a very similar manner to many other more modernistic mockumentaries. The wobbly cameraman. The one on one interview's. The stock-photography. The jovial pretext. And other such associative attributes of this ilk. Next, once the story kicks onto gear, and the mood jumps up a notch, you are presented with a very nice jovial section where the whole 'fake-exorcism' comes into play, which is really funny to follow all in all. Then suddenly, out of the blue, the mood abruptly changes, and for quite some time you can feel yourself delving into horror territory. And finally, once you think that everything has resolved itself - BANG - the movie ends on such a peculiar note, you cannot help but clutch onto your chest with fear that your heart will take a nose dive.
OK, as you can most probably tell from my vague exploration so far, this film really did take me on an emotional roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, which is one third humorous, one third terrorizing, and one third innovative. Moreover, all the actors are just superb, and behave with such realism, that at times you have to remind yourself that they are actually acting. Patrick Fabian is a scream at the strained man of the cloth. Louis Herthum is both cute and concerning as the hometown farm girl. Plus Iris Bahr, Caleb Landry Jones, and Louis Herthum, all really support 'The Last Exorcism' by grounding it to a reality, and making this movie all the more sweeter.
Heck, just like these filmic-facts: (1) Patrick Fabian starred in television series such as 'Murder, She Wrote', 'Friends', 'Ugly Betty', and 'Beverly Hills, 90210'. (2) This flick was dispatched to cinemas under the given name 'Scrutiny'. For security sake of course. (3) Ashley Bell is the daughter of actors Michael Bell and Victoria Carroll. (4) The film poster was banned in the
because it presented an image of a young girl bent over backwards below a
crucifix wearing a blood-spattered dress. It was allowed to be on the
back-cover of magazines though. (5) Iris Bahr also goes by the name Iris
Bar-Ziv. (6) Ashley Bell has hyper-mobility, which was why she could contort
her own body. (7) A relation of the film crew was once an exorcist in real-life,
and was used as an advisor on the set. (8) This movie earned over ten times its
original budget [$1.8 million], whilst making back its marketing costs within
the first week alone. (9) Like Patrick, Louis Herthum
also worked on the television show 'Murder, She Wrote'. He played Deputy
Sheriff, Andy Broom. (10) Writers, Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, were both
meant to direct this picture. But eventually they dropped out when Daniel Stamm
came onboard. And (11) This film has a website, www.thelastexorcism.com
Overall 'The Last Exorcism' is a really great film. It's funny. It's stylish. It's scary. Plus in some strange way it reminds me of an amalgamation of 'Rosemary's Baby', 'The Exorcist' and Woody Allen's film 'Take the Money and Run' (click on the links for the reviews). Very strange, right? Just like the very strange ending in fact.
No comment, ha!
THE RATING: A