The Last Exorcism

  • Year:2010
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Daniel Stamm
  • Cast:Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian
  • Release Date:November 25, 2010
  • Distributor:Hopscotch
  • Running time:87 minutes
  • Film Worth:$7.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Disappointingly, the main themes are underdeveloped and the mockumentary format often feels artificial.

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The Last Exorcism's protagonist, the charismatic Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), is a charlatan, a man who has lost his faith but continues to perform exorcisms in the hope that they are of psychological benefit to the sufferer. For his last "performance", he decides to bring along a documentary crew, and with them expose the whole concept for the scam he believes it to be.

Responding to a plea from a farmer in rural Louisiana, Marcus and crew hit the road. At their destination they have an unpleasant encounter with the farmer's son Caleb (Caleb Jones) and meet his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell), the supposed victim of demonic possession. Marcus' sham exorcism of Nell seems to go well, but subsequent events have the reverend re-evaluating his discarded beliefs.

This crisis of faith, along with Nell's struggle, should form the film's backbone, but both themes remain underdeveloped. Director Daniel Stamm has stated that he did not want to imitate films like The Exorcist, aiming instead for a scenario that was character-based and avoided cliché. The irony is, for all its projectile vomiting, head spinning theatrics, The Exorcist is a far more powerful character study than Stamm's film.

The real stumbling block for The Last Exorcism is its mockumentary format, which disrupts the narrative and draws attention to its own artificiality. It's a self-conscious affectation that works well with the film's jokey beginning, but isn't technically up to sustaining the later horror scenes. Some moments are creepy, but these are never intensified to produce a genuine level of horror.

The climax owes a debt to a seminal 1960s horror film which it would be unfair to name - suffice it to say the comparison doesn't do The Last Exorcism any favours.

All things considered, The Exorcist remains the definitive film on exorcism, almost 40 years on.

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