The Last Exorcism, directed by Daniel Stamm, combines the recent genre trend of cinéma vérité techniques with a religious horror theme. The documentary-style film, produced by Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), hits theaters tomorrow. There has been a good deal of hype about this one within the horror community. London’s FrightFest, which kicks off tonight, is even honoring it as their Closing Film on Monday. Here’s the official Logline:
“After a career spent helping the devout through prayer and trickery, Reverend Cotton Marcus invites a film crew to document his final fraudulent days as an exorcist. Soon his faith is truly tested when a desperate plea from the father of a possessed girl brings him face to face with the devil himself.”
Russell (aka Crowbait) and Jenn had the pleasure of seeing this film 2 weeks in advance thanks to the efforts of Bloody Disgusting. Although the rowdy crowd in our theater killed the atmosphere, it was great to be able to see this so early. And for free! Thanks, guys!
Jenny Dreadful’s Review:
I attended the Last Exorcism screening hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. I’d heard good reviews, but feel like I’ve been burned by hype more and more lately. I do love the “found footage” approach, though, and I’m always super happy to see a new spin on that idea. I’m sure it’ll eventually be as cliché as drowned ladies with long black hair, but I’m still having fun.
As mentioned in the log-line, the story focuses on a Reverend looking to expose fraudulent exorcism practices from within the church via a documentary. He travels to rural Louisiana with a camera crew to stage an exorcism for the last time and well… Let’s be honest. You can assume it doesn’t work out as planned if you look at that poster art.
The positive: The Reverend Cotton character is fantastic and very very funny. One of my highest praises of this film, actually, is that all of the characters are very well done. The camera crew is less fleshed out, but they still serve a purpose by asking the questions we’re all thinking. Good spooky farmhouse setting and atmosphere. Sadly, there are occasional jump-scares. Much of the horror is still conveyed through sound and suggestion, though, and that’s refreshing. I also enjoyed some unexpected turns in the story. I am pleased with the film overall.
The negative: We felt that the ending was pretty unsatisfying. I certainly found the finale to be exciting while I was watching it. Looking back, though, the setup was great and I was hoping for something more. There were parts of the film where the plot twists reminded me of Lake Mungo and it’s possible that establishing that comparison let me down a little. Don’t want to get into it much more than that to avoid spoilers. I also have a couple nitpicks like the use of jump scares (Could be worse, usually is) and a lack of clarity in how the film is presented, (found footage or documentary?) but the ending is my main issue.
Would I recommend? Gore hounds hoping for splatter won’t find what they’re looking for here, but I would recommend this to fans of supernatural horror. I enjoyed it. It’s no The Exorcist, but it’s a fun blend of those themes with a REC-style execution. Worth checking out. Not perfect, but I’ll watch it again.
Does it pass the Bechdel test? Just barely.
**Crowbait is out of town on business and didn’t have time to write up his… definitely more negative!.. review yet. His review will be posted separately later. Thanks!**
So, what did you think? I left them out of the post, but spoilers in the comments are a-ok. If you haven’t seen it, just avoid them.