The Last Exorcism
I really didn’t want to want to see The Last Exorcism. The trailer screamed incompetence. I despise the way Lions Gate tried to pass it off as an Eli Roth film. The PG-13 rating says to me: censorship (yes, this is illogical, but it’s how I feel). But I couldn’t deny that this film was getting really excellent buzz. And every time Roth popped in my head, I knew I could recall that scene from Piranha 3D where his head explodes to calm me down.
I’ll admit that mixing possession with that one camera, documentary style that’s becomes so popular in the horror genre lately, well, it has the ability to pretty damn creepy. Especially when considering how well done it was in movies like [REC], Paranormal Activity, and The Blair Witch Project. I’ll be honest, Paranormal Activity really freaked me out. With all this in mind, I took a chance on Daniel Stamm’s latest project. What I got wasn’t really that scary, or groundbreaking. But I was satisfied with it nonetheless.
The story begins following pastor Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) who’s not sure he believes in God at all. He is the star of a documentary in the making, attempting to prove what a scam exorcism is. He leads the crew to a backwater farm where a father is convinced his daughter (played by Ashley Bell) is possessed by a demon named Abalam. Steeped in the south, full of superstition, illiteracy, a general lack of education, the film tosses ideas at the viewer, making them wonder, is it all in the characters’ minds? Or is something really up?
With someone like Eli Roth involved, the answer to that question should be answered before you even start watching the movie. And the ending is certainly the most disappointing piece of the film, even if it does provide a few genuinely spooky moments. The best part, is watching Stamm develop his characters, and build the suspense and doubt slowly but surely. The Descent comes to mind when comparing horror films that spent the right amount of time focusing on the right things, although a direct comparison may be too high a compliment.
As a mindless summer movie, The Last Exorcism delivers all that it’s credentials assures. But there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done, and been done better before.