Seriously.. it's been almost 40 years since The Exorcist. Thought people would have figured it out by now. Those white nightdresses them girls wear are the demon magnets. You don't wanna get possessed, don't wear a nightdress. Problem solved.
So I wasn't too hyped up to see this movie, because really.. this kind of format and storyline has been done to death in the horror genre but I was pleasantly surprised by this film. For the most part, The Last Exorcism was a genuinely creepy, intense character drama. And then the ending happened.
So the film is about a pastor, Reverend Cotton Marcus who has been an evangelist and an exorcist for all his life, coming from a family of preachers. But he sees his job more of as a business than faith matters. He doesn't even believe spirits or demons are real. Overwhelmed with guilt for the people he's conned, he agrees to do a documentary where he performs and exorcism on a girl and shows the crew all the tricks he uses to make the ritual seem real. But then some strange things start to happen that throws Cotton, the crew and the girls family in a frightening struggle between faith and survival.
First thing gotta talk about is how awesome the two lead actors were. Patrick Fabian who plays the pastor in this is one hell of a character actor. In a way he is very charming in his portrayal but his character has levels of depth usually absent in most main characters in a horror film which probably is what made the story flow so well is because we had a main character that we connected with and like, thus adding great tension in the chilly scenes.
Speaking of chilly scenes.. Ashley Bell is the actress who plays the possessed girl named Nell and even when she's not all Lucifer-ish, her eyes are just creepy to look at. People are saying her performance here is Oscar worthy, and yes she has been getting a lot of indie award nominations but I wouldn't go that far to praise the performance. But definitely a great one, very physical yet subtle in execution in some of the most creepy facial expressions that were brilliantly shot in a found footage format.
And also the two actors who play Nell's father and brother. Which brings me to the whole dynamic storyline of Last Exorcism. See, these guys are batshit fucked up. They don't act like the big lunatics you'll find on Shutter Island, but it's pretty clear that they are just from the way they act and speak. And I thought those two delivered, especially the guy playing the brother.
The Last Exorcism kept me guessing, walking a very thin line between the psychological and supernatural. Throughout the movie, you're wondering if this girl is truly possessed or if she's just psychologically insane because her family and the people around her are just crazy. And the filmmaker does a really good job in leading you in all the wrong directions with some very clever plot twists and scares.
Everything about the two thirds of The Last Exorcism was so neat, and smart and cool. But then the ending happened and my hopes for a good horror film was shattered. Now I'm not going to spoil it, but the ending to this film is ludicrous bullshit. It totally destroys everything the film has been working up to in the first 2/3 of it. Really disappointed how this movie turned out, especially when I have been loving everything else so far only to have it end like that.
But still, this is a fresh take on found footage horror and it's abysmal ending is easily saved by the brilliance of the first two thirds. I'd love to see the director do another horror film.. this time.. don't fuck it up dude.