MOVIE REVIEW – ‘The Last Exorcism’

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Daniel Stamm
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Zoltan Honti
WRITERS: Huck Botko
MUSIC: Nathan Barr

Why does there always have to be a movie that proves that the latest “Twilight” film will not be the worst film of the year? This time, it is “The Last Exorcism” that attempts and succeeds at being that film. Short on thrills but not on unbearably shaky camerawork, the film is a very generic horror film.

It tells the story of Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). One of the appealing aspects of the film is the fact that he knows exorcisms are a fraud. The reason he is bringing a cameraman and producer along for the ride to his last exorcism is to show the tricks that priest use to prove that a demon is present.

Cotton is heading to a small farm in Louisiana to exorcise a “demon” from a young girl named Nell (Ashley Bell) at her father’s (Louis Herthum) request. The first exorcism seems to go okay, but this is a horror film and soon, creepy things begin to take place.

The problem is the fact that it takes a really long time for this to start happening. The first half of the film is setting up Cotton’s fake beliefs and giving his back story. With no real scares, this is insanely boring to watch and the audience is impatiently waiting for something spooky to happen. In other words, the film really needed to get to the point and failed at this objective.

Cotton is in serious need of a better cameraman. This guy does not know how to focus on anything for more than two seconds. Also, how bad does a situation have to get before the person holding the camera gives up, drops the camera and just runs away? Now, this is a problem with any film of this type such as “The Blair Witch Project” but it is somewhat forgivable due to the fact that if the cameraman does stop rolling, the film ends.

In the meantime, when things do settle down, the cameraman decides to shoot a lot of useless B-roll footage when he should be freaking out. It could have been a different case had he actually filmed more of Cotton’s thoughts on what was going on, but that would help make this a good movie. This is obviously not what the filmmakers want.

The film has a hard time coping with its mocumentary style footage and there are attempts to make shots that feel like they are from a more traditional horror film. The film’s musical score also feels completely out of place when it finally chimes in from time to time.

One thing about the film is that Cotton, while being completely full of crap, is a likeable guy. He has a lovely wife and a son who is desperately in need of a new hearing aid. One of the aspects of the film is the anticipation for Cotton to learn the error of his ways but it never really happens.

Another problem with the film comes when it is revealed that Nell really is possessed by a demon. There is no attempt to break any new ground in this genre. Nell’s body begins to contort in impossible ways, she speaks in languages she shouldn’t know and there are several paintings of pentagrams and the number 666 all over the place. These things are nothing that cannot be seen in the several exorcism films that already existed before this one.

Finally, the ending of the film is a complete letdown. It just stops and leaves the audience frustrated with what they have just seen. Despite the potential that the film had to completely shake things up, it falls into mediocrity with no thrills. This Halloween, the audience should just concern itself with the far superior movie and reigning champ, “The Exorcist”.

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