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“The Last Exorcism” Film Review

“The Last Exorcism” ultimately fails to deliver the promise of a very simple premise, instead it decides to exercise my wallet. It’s not that there isn’t a good setup, because there is. It’s not that there’s no compelling characters, because there are. It really boils down to re-hashing old “Blair Witch” ideas, and I wasn’t the only to say it.

Why you’ll like this:
You have to see every single horror movie about exorcists, and you love them all.

The film opens with the revelation that a minsterial child-prodigy has grown to become a renowned Protestant exorcist, but the only problem is that he’s lost his faith in demons and the whole religious game, but that doesn’t stop him from making a buck off the racket. His conscience leads him to invite some documentarians with him to his final exorcism so that he can reveal and dispel the practice for what it is, a joke. Let the mind-bending ensue.

The entire film is shot in documentary style, much like other films such as “The Blair Witch Project”, “Cloverfield”, “Paranormal Activity”, etc. Towards the end of the movie it did start to grate on me and give me a bit of a headache, but I guess sitting in the front row in this type of movie will produce that affect. This style is generally used to generate a hyper-sense of reality, to make us feel like we’re just watching what was popped into the VCR, except with some superimposed labels mixed in…because that’s what you do after a terrifying experience, make sure you label people’s names with digital effects.

I actually did like the setup, it provided a great context and excuse to see some screwed up stuff. I suppose they just forgot to add it in. The minister is an interesting guy, and the possessed girl is highly likable and sweet. The build up of the first two acts based on these characters makes you wonder how crazy is this going to get once it finally hits the fan. Somehow they managed to let it hit the fan and then completely kill the momentum, a pretty difficult feat it would seem.

Why you won’t like this:
The third act fails to impress, and the closing scene doubly so.

Ultimately, this felt like a mash-up of Christopher Lee’s “To the Devil a Daughter” and “Blair Witch”, but if you have me thinking of other productions in the middle of watching your own then you probably failed. This isn’t a horrible movie, and in a sense it’s genius, because it’s a metaphor, the minister who has lost his faith represents the filmmakers, but rather than just deciding to stop being a minister/filmmaker he decides to humor us, “put on a show” that we want, take our money and leave, while we’re slack-jawed that we fell for it. Bravo, mission accomplished, great long-con fellas. Next time can you make a movie about a kid who steps off a carnival ride and slaughters the carney for the awful entertainment value?

2.5 stars out of 5.

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum,
Director: Daniel Stamm
Genre: Horror
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Release Date: August 27, 2010