Documentary style horror.
The Last Exorcism came out alongside a bunch of other horror films at the time. It is another found footage film (yay…) that covers a troubled minister working to expose the sham of exorcisms. However, when he brings along a film crew to one last exorcism not everything is what it seems. Patrick Fabian takes the role of minister Cotton Marcus, and Fabian’s charm helps carry the film greatly.
Where the film works is the idea of uprooting the horror genre as a scam. Cotton makes a lot of money on exorcisms, and feels that it is nothing more than a show. Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) clearly needs medical attention, but her father Louis (Louis Herthum) does not trust doctors. Blind faith mixes with possible familial violence in this slow burner.
So, is the film any good? The first 2/3 of the film are interesting, and the mysterious elements will keep you guessing. The camera is held by a professional cameraman, and this makes a huge difference in the quality of the found footage. Unfortunately, in the last twenty minutes of the film or so everything you have come to hate about the genre will appear.
The found footage in this film actually works as a plot device. It does not feel like a cheap way to reduce the budget that seems so common lately. In a lot of ways, the movie works better as a mystery than it does horror. In fact, when the movie tries to transition to outright horror is when the otherwise decent movie starts to come undone.
The idea that demons aren’t real and people simply seek out religious explanation to real world problems is interesting. The film might be abrasive to some, but it handled with a level of authenticity that I appreciated. Unfortunately, what the exact message the film wants to send is not entirely clear. The ending of the film completely uproots the message and tone of the film in ways the truly hurt the narrative’s viability as a good story. I told my friend to stop the movie when they make a U-turn and make up their own ending. They told me I was right, and regretted watching the end.
In the end this is a competent little film that is a lot better than many of the found footage horror flicks out there. It still suffers from the shaky cam, blurry cam, and a lot of looking at the ground—but these annoying moments are resigned to the end of the film. I liked the movie overall. It isn’t great, but it is a fun and interesting take on the genre. However, the film is simply not scary. It is sad and at points offers a powerful commentary on religious isolation, fear, and faith. Go in not looking for scares and you will like the movie a lot more. 6.5/10