The Last Exorcism

Posted: December 19, 2010 in Movies
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The Last Exorcism is a found footage film about Reverend Cotton Marcus. It opens with a brief over view of his life. He is a son of a preacher, who was reared from an early age to be a preacher himself. A natural showman, he is very charismatic during his sermons and does a lot of magic/slight of hand tricks. His father performed over 100 exorcisms in his lifetime, and has an big ancient looking book about various demons that posses people.

Cotton has a young son with some kind of hearing problem. In a cute scene he’s asked what his father does, to which he replies that he fights vampires and monsters of the world. He’s asked if his father really believes in monsters, to which he puts his finger to his lips (shhh) and says no. This brings us to the heart of the story. Cotton had a lapse of faith over his son’s disability. He credits science and not god for his son’s treatment (he has a hearing aid). He examined his own life and realized he was only preaching because of his father. At some point he read a story about a young boy around his sons age who died during an exorcism. From here he made it his mission to expose exorcism as a sham, which is why he’s hired a two person film crew, Iris and Dan, to document him doing and Exorcism. (We see Iris on film, but we don’t see Dan much, but he does have some dialogue).

Cotton and his crew go to a farmhouse in the backwoods of Louisiana from which they got a letter about a young girl named Nell who is possessed. Nell’s mother died recently, and she lives with her father Louise and brother Caleb. Caleb has a great interaction with the crew early on as he tells them to get lost and throws rocks at Cotton’s vehicle.

Cotton secretly sets up a room in the farmhouse with various props and later performs the Exorcism. We get the various beats of exorcism films, the shaking bed, moving furniture, smoking crosses, all interspersed with earlier footage of Cotton revealing that these are in fact special effects.

At this point, not that far into the film, Cotton figures his job is done and is soon to head home. However, various strange events occur which keep Cotton and the crew in the area.

The Last Exorcism isn’t the scariest movie, but unlike other movies of the “found footage” genre (Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, etc) it’s incredibly strong in the story department. It’s got foreshadowing,  lots of twists and turns, with a few red herrings that keep you guessing to what’s really going on with this family.  It’s got a normal sized movie cast and many varying locations. This may because unlike other “found footage” movies it had a larger budget (though still small by Hollywood standards) of 1.8 million. (As opposed to Blair Witch’s $60,000 or Paranormal’s $15,000).

Regarding the nature of Nell’s possession, the story goes back and forth on if Nell is really possessed by a demon. During the investigation there’s several odd happenings but nothing that’s blatantly supernatural. You don’t know what’s really going on until the very last scene.

Like Cloverfield, Last Exorcism doesn’t pretend to be a true story. There’s no dates given in the footage, no post credit updates on the story, and no story about the footage itself.  Though slightly lacking on scares, it offers a very intriguing story, and is a very worthy addition to both the found footage and exorcist genres.

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