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Christopher Webster [DVD News 01.07.11] movie review dvd horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Daniel Stamm
Writers: Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 8 out of 10

The Last Exorcism is a fairly unscary entry into the "possessed girl" genre, and yet I found it to be absolutely intriguing, totally entertaining and impossible to stop watching.

I'd heard all kinds of rumblings that the ending was a love-it-or-hate-it affair, but really the only thing I found wrong with it is that it was over far too quickly. And if that's the worst thing you can say about a film then I'd say you have to put it firmly in awesome category.

There is an obvious divide between critics and audiences on this one. Critics seem to like it (it's 72% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) while general audiences have rallied against it (5.7/10 on IMDB). I think the main reason for this is two-fold. The film's mock-documentary approach to telling the story and the fact that Lionsgate made sure to keep that fact out of mass marketing products. They also used some CGI FX that aren't even in the movie! HOWEVER, Lionsgate should also be commended for their brilliant Chat Roulette Girl viral marketing campaign.

Patrick Fabian is Cotton Markus, a small town minister who used to routinely perform exorcisms for cash, but now sees them as endangering the lives of already psychologically challenged people and children. Through a documentary, he sets out to reveal his "tricks of the trade" and show the truth behind the exorcism scam.

He opens a plea-letter at random and, with the camera crew in tow, travels to a nearby town to help a father who believes his daughter Nell is possessed.

Interestingly enough, the same reasons for people's disappointment in the film are the reasons I liked the film so much. The documentary aesthetic pulled me into the story quickly and Patrick Fabian is such a force of nature that I wanted to see where his journey would take him, and how such a skeptic would react when faced with the real thing. Secondly, because I went into the film expecting an Eli Roth produced gore-fest that ran the risk of being fun, but all surface, I came away pleasantly surprised with how dense and ambiguous the film really is compared to stuff Roth generally associated himself with - like Hostel or Piranha 3D.

A lot has also been made of Ashley Bell's performance as the supposedly possessed girl, Nell. She is indeed a perfect fit for the role in her "ordinary" look and ability to contort her body like some insane circus act.

The Last Exorcism won't transform the genre in the same way that Blair Witch did, but why should it? I think it emerges in much better form than recent films like The Haunting in Connecticut. I'd recommend giving it a spin and judging for yourself.

For those of you who have seen it, I'm curious to read your thoughts.

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ReplicA (11 years ago) Reply

Since you asked for it, here's what I thought. I saw it in the theaters, and was enthralled till the end. It had a very weird sense of something always about to happen, and had some very good tension. But then the ending hit, took a hard left turn, and was over before I could make sense of anything that just happened. They had me hook line and sinker, till the ending. I won't say I hated it, cause as I was leaving I KNEW I'd be revisiting it on dvd cause when I feel that strongly about a movie, one way or the other, I give it some time to settle in the back of my head, and watch it again later. Example: I HATED The Professional the first time I saw it, thought it was utter trash. Caught it on HBO later, and now it's one of my favorite movies of all time.

When this hits dvd, I'll watch it again, and then I'll know if I like it or hate it.


loci (11 years ago) Reply

Definitely one of the best comedies since the wicker man remake.
The scene where you hear her trying to play the recorder while being (I assume) flung around the room, was pure comedy gold.


Gav (11 years ago) Reply

I thought it was a great horror film. Quite astonished to say that! I was sucked in pretty much straight off the bat as well. When in-fact I was in two minds whether or not to watch this film (but I decided since the wife had gone to bed early and she warned me against watching it combined with your positive review) because these days I am completely opposed of anything to do with the paranormal, particulary since I have recently married a devout Catholic and we both have very different views on religion/paranormal.

I was intrigued from the start of the film; particular since the rev was mocking 'faith' by creating this documentary. I gave a cheeky smile, and I knew this film was going to be good! Every scene felt believably creepy and thus thoroughly enjoyable.

I'm glad I got to watch this on my laptop with headphonies on and in darkness. I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it any other way.

I'm not a fan of Eli Roth either, on the contrary actually. However I do love Blair Witch. So maybe there is a slight connection there.

Regarding the end. Is there an alternate ending on the dvd by any chance? My spine was tingling when it closed, which usualy is a good sign with horror movies in my book. But I know that ending has been done before. Looked to be stolen from numerous movies infact (Hot Fuzz comes straight to mind followed by Blair Witch) The more I analyse it the more marks I will be chipping off the eight I give it - so I won't.

Good film. Thanks for headsup!

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