Cotton Marcus is an evangelist who has lost much of his faith through years of performing exorcisms. When Louis Sweetzer a Louisiana farmer writes to him that his daugher Nell seems to be possessed by a demon, Cotton heads there with an assistant and a cameraman, intent on making a documentary to show how fake exorcism really is. Using things like bed springs and a liquid which makes water bubble, he peforms a fake exorcism and leaves, but then finds Nell in his hotel room……
For much of it’s length The Last Exorcism is very impressive and a really effective twist on The Exorcist-type movies. It’s done as a documentar, replete with things like shakycam and the camera on the floor, and although this approach is rather overused at the moment, it works really well here, making proceedings very convincing indeed. Much like Paranormal Activity, you get to believe what you’re watching, and, like that film, after a very gradual start, things hot up and start to become very scary indeed. Of course things like Nell twisting her neck and snapping her fingers may be disappointing highpoints to those used to special effects, but the realistic approach really makes some of these things very distubing, helped by some scary use of slightly exaggurated sounds and some very convincing performances. I was on the edge of my seat for much of the second half and the constant twists and turns ensured that for once I had no idea how the film was going to end. The audience is really kept guessing as to whether supernatural forces really are at work or whether a [possibly even more disturbing] human element is the prime motivator. However, the film then drops the ball with an absurd climax reminiscent of films like The Wicker Man and Race For The Devil that for me not only made it overly obvious that things were indeed the work of supernatural forces [surely it’s more interesting to keep one guessing?] but seemed teribly rushed [as if writers Huck Bolto and Andrew Garland thought up the ending really quickly], badly handled and from a different film. At least the explicitly fantastical wrap up to Paranormal Activity was brief and frightening! I really don’t think the last fifteen minutes of this movie work at all, a real shame as what leads up to it is very good indeed and does show Daniel Stamm as a horror director to watch.
[pt-filmtitle]The Last Exorcism[/pt-filmtitle]