Girls who still go to sleep in night-gowns are definitely possessed.
Ready to expose his miraculous deeds as mere trickery, Rev. Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a documentary crew to film his final exorcism. But when the devil actually possesses a girl’s body, Marcus must regain his faith and engage in the fight of his life.
You put two great horror classics together, ‘The Blair Witch Project‘ and ‘The Exorcist‘, and you get this. Now I know they’re could have been a better way to combine those two films, or at least better than this crap.
The film is shown in the usual “found footage” way that has practically plagued horror ever since the first idea of ‘Paranormal Activity‘ was talked about. Some films use it the right way, like Paranormal Activity, others don’t. This is one of those that actually don’t.
Director Daniel Stamm does a pretty good job in the beginning of the film, of actually creating this creepy and pretty realistic look at a Reverend who takes up one last job of performing an exorcism on this girl. Stamm is able to create some pretty tense moments of suspense and mystery because you never quite know what just is going to happen next with these unpredictable people at-hand and the lack of many CG effects and gore actually help the way this film looks and feels.
However, where Stamm fails is actually in convincing us that this story could ever be real, because none of it ever feels like that. When you are filming something in a documentary style, it’s always best to use one camera and no score or soundtrack to convey a creepy mood considering that’s what makes it seem even scarier. However, the film starts to dive into the constant, multi-camera editing and the score that all seem misplaced and take a lot away from this film and make it seem more like an indie feature with a very low budget.
The writing is also pretty bad too because everything just got very silly, real quick. These sort of films usually depend on improvisation for its “realistic factor”, but the film uses a very tight-script with characters that just spout out lines like they were from a natural horror film, or just a film none the less. The ending is also somewhat atrocious as it just starts to dive into some pretty familiar territory that we have seen done before and to even worse effect here by how stupid and dumb it gets.
Two great performances from this cast is probably what really kept me watching this film. Patrick Fabian is very charming as this arrogant, and sort of cocky reverend named Cotton Marcus. This guy is really entertaining to watch on screen because he seems like a pretty real dude that seems like he would do the right thing, in any situation because he is a good guy and pretty honest one as well. I believed him more as just a regular dude, rather than just another yelling and howling preacher boy.
Ashley Bell is also very good as Nell Sweetzer because it’s all about the look with her, and she owns it. Bell is actually in her mid-20’s in real-life, so it’s a little hard to believe her as a teenager here but she makes us see her as this troubled, teenage virgin who is so messed up that the quiet scenes, she’s very good with but as well as the other scenes where she just totally loses all control. But still, she looked like she was 30 while she was playing a 16-year old. Maybe in the 80’s you could have gotten away with this, but now in 2011, it’s a lot more noticeable.
Consensus: The Last Exorcism features some thrills and two good performances from this cast, but overall features too much silly writing that totally loses itself by the end, and a low-budget direction that actually makes this film seem less realistic and more of just an indie production.