Monday, October 21, 2013

The Last Exorcism (2010)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no major plot reveals, twists, or surprises**

Living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) takes a trip to the small town of Ivanwood, Louisiana to perform an exorcism on a teenage girl named Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell).

Joined by the team of his director/producer, Iris (Iris Bahr) and the camera man, Daniel (Adam Grimes), Cotton is met with resistance from Nell’s brother, Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones), but Nell’s devout father Louis (Louis Herthum) is more than willing to cooperate. But Cotton’s mission to expose the conspiracy behind faux exorcisms takes a turn for the worst, when Cotton is forced to confront the real demon within Nell.

Ashely Bell delivers the best performance here. Bell’s ability to randomly switch gears between this innocent country girl, and this deranged and creepy possessed victim is remarkable. Rest of the cast is decent at best, but Bell steals the show, easily.

Don’t expect any groundbreaking changes for exorcism horror films in The Last Exorcism. Nell spends a lot of time hopping around like a feral creature, you have the predictable and over the top exorcism scene at the end with the demon using Nell as a vessel, and torturing her body by breaking bones and the usual contortions. You'll see a l lot of "been there, done that" moments here, so don't get your hopes up for too many refreshing changes.

But The Last Exorcism deserves credit for some effort in the attention to details department. Cotton gives an in depth explanation for the tricks used during an exorcism by showing all the little gadgets and magic tricks behind the chaos. And The Last Exorcism is able to maintain a sense of realism as a found-footage film. It feels like you’re watching a documentary, as Cotton and his crew interview numerous people throughout the film, and the “TURN THAT CAMERA OFF!” moments help pull everything together. Also, there’s a little wink to The Exorcist at the beginning, if you pay close attention. Cotton uses The Exorcist’s mainstream popularity as an example for the Vatican justifying the usage of exorcisms.

Patience is crucial with The Last Exorcism, because things don’t kick into high gear until the thirty-six minute mark. I’ll give The  Last Exorcism credit for playing some mind games with the audience. Nell IS possessed by a demon, and it’s more clear and obvious as the story progresses.

As I said before, The Last Exorcism won’t raise the bar for horror Exorcism films, and you’ll see a few corny, predictable moments here. Still, with some help from Ashley Bell’s outstanding performance, a handful of twists, surprises, thrills, and a sinister cliffhanger, The Last Exorcism is better than your annual Hollywood exorcism film.

Rating: 7/10

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