The Last Exorcism Review
Written by: Psyko113
It's rare for me that I find a film that I can get little out of. Being a filmmaker myself, I have plenty of working knowledge of what hard work goes in to making even the seemingly simplest of films and projects. Also, having a fair amount of knowledge in the occult (demonology, parapsychology and paranormal sciences), I can appreciate when things on a technical level are done justice, though I understand the need to add a little flare in order for something to work in a visual medium.
Somewhat heavy hearted, I have to admit that I didn't find as much enjoyment in The Last Exorcism as I had hoped I would. Some technical merits aside, the film fails to deliver genuine scares, and plays a little too closely into the Blair Witch Project approach (and that's saying something, coming from someone who still quite enjoys BWP).
The film is a documentary style tale about one Rev. Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who is making the documentary to expose the practice of exorcism as a hoax. This is inspired by a newspaper article involving a child meeting a tragic end during an exorcism, and considering that Marcus at this point had already been on the fence about the strength of his faith. Getting a letter from a person seeking help in Louisiana, Marcus hits the road with the crew to prove his point about how dangerous the concept of exorcism can be, while still intending to help a family in need (just not exactly in the way they are imagining).
Here we meet the family of Louis, Caleb and Nell Sweetzer (the last of which stealing the show with her amazing performace, to be honest), of which the daughter, Nell, is the one believe to be possessed. What starts off as being a prime example of the type of mentality Marcus speaks of, soon turns for the worse, as signs of a legitimate possession begin to appear (and Marcus is shaken by not really knowing what to do, having the lack of belief he does).
The film does a decent example showing some of the stages to possession, as well as some of the "tricks" often documented to fool those trying to help the afflicted. From that technical point, it does well...but it fails to truly convey the dread of the situation (a common problem with films of this sub-genre).
From a perspective of a filmmaker, the film does decently. Lighting is great and looks natural, sound is well done, and the dialogue feels very natural...it's just the ending of the film that mirrors a previous docu-film a little too closely that doesn't sit well with me.
In the end, the film is decent enough to check out, but I would go into the theatre with relatively low hopes of being wowed, if you bother to see it in theatres at all.