The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism (2010) movie poster

(2010) director Daniel Stamm
viewed: 01/26/11

While it doesn’t look like much, “what another exorcism movie?”, The Last Exorcism is actually a cut above the average (a low average it must be said) horror film.  Produced by Eli Roth, the film has a moderately novel concept, a reverend who performs exorcisms but doesn’t really believe in them.  He does what he does as a form of “therapy”, faking effects, acting his role, in order to help people with “worldly” ills and ailments that they believe are “possession”.  And he’s followed on one of these missions by a film crew.

The film unfortunately takes the “mock-documentary”/”found footage” approach that has become way too common in horror films in the last decade.  On the positive side of this, the film doesn’t try to make this effect seem overly “realistic”, meaning the film has better cinematography and isn’t so entirely married to the concept as other are.  But the question still arises: why do it this way?  Why not just make a straightforward narrative film with the same material.  The weakest part of the film ends up being the ending, with shaky camera in the dark woods, while the cameraman is running, suddenly stops, spins around and OH! There is somebody there!  Imagine that!

The film’s strength is its cast, namely Patrick Fabian as the secular-leaning minister Cotton Marcus.  The actors are all good, but they seem to lack the Southern character of the setting (rural Louisiana).  Everyone sounds like a Yankee.

But the film draws you in.  Some of the plot twists are a little surprising (teasingly interesting, though not fully satisfying).  Still, the film holds together better than a lot, and its qualities are not gore and shock value, and as I mentioned its tension is a little denuded by the style of faux-documentary, shaky-camera work.   Oddly, it lacks a lot of the types of things that usually elevate a genre flick, unique details, potent scares, et cetera. Still, it’s not bad.

Still, I look forward to the day when the “found footage”/”fake-documentary” style has ebbed back into obscurity.

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