The Last Exorcism (2010)
Director: Daniel Stamm
A "I don't believe in the Lord no more" evangelical minister (Fabian) has his last exorcism filmed by a documentary crew in the name of exposing the practice as a sham. The horned one has other plans for his sorry ass.
NOTE: The mimic of THE EXORCIST Regan spider-walk that is in the LAST EXORCISM trailer (they have her crawling on the ceiling) is nowhere to be found in the film. F*ck I hate when Studios do that, sell what you got, not the footage you shot solely for the trailer. Damn charlatans...
THE LAST EXORCISM came out of left field for me. I hadn't heard Jack or twat about it and then next thing ya know, its all up in my site, Eli Roth's name is glued to it as a producer and the promo goods are all over the place. And ya know what? I was pumped there for a while as I'm always up for a gnarly possession party. THE EXORCIST is one of my fav films of all time, shit I even dig THE AMYTIVILLE HORROR (the original that is) and THE FIRST POWER (guilty pleasure). But then some early so-so reviews started to seep in and tales of it being laughed off at the Fantasia Film Festival rattled my ear drums. Hence I walked into this screening with my guards up and my jock-strap on. Did I get knocked out? Yes but for the wrong reasons.
THE LAST EXORCISM started on a high note. Its mockumentory approach with compelling interviews and such was very credible, The fine actors in the house had something to with upping street cred as well. They were very appealing and realistically portrayed. At the end of the spinning head, this was Patrick Fabian's show and if I didn't buy him, I didn't buy shit. But I did! Fabian was natural, charismatic and multi layered. And the same went for the supporting cast. Ashley Bell, Caleb Landry Jones and Louis Herthum in particular sold me hardcore with their potent and grounded displays. So the human level was checked off. And although I am personally sick of these damn mockumentary horror films (right after remakes they are the main knife in my side), I gotta admit to being charmed silly by this one.
The way director Daniel Stamm conveyed his cinema verite schtick made for an hypnotizing watch. He milked his creepy locations like a champ, managed to evoke tension and more often than none the film was well framed and not too shaky. Yup, the aesthetics pleased my retina and served the story well. Speaking of the story, for the first hour or so, this one was doing no wrong! It put out a tantalizing initial premise and then cranked the suspense to "by the balls" as we trucked along. Moreover, the movie often slyly played with my expectations, and every time I thought I knew one thing, it tossed a curve ball my way to let me know I didn't know shit. Topple on top of that the varied themes of religion versus science, to God or not to God, possessed or not possessed and you get a man (me that is) kept me in my seat where I belonged. Late in the film, this crossed my mind: why the f*ck did the Fantasia crowd laugh this movie off? Its well written, made, acted and it owns! And then the last 15 minutes kicked in and I found out why the hard way.
Which brings me to my main beefs. First, yeah the flick didn't always manage to justify why somebody was filming. I mean once the shit hit the shan why the f*ck are you still filming? Drop that camera and run bitch run! But that was minor compared to that god AWFUL ending. Talk about flushing down the toilet everything the film did right for an hour or so. WOW! Last time I saw something go down so quick, was when I got head from some Execs sexually frustrated wife. The low IQ and clumsy ending was ridiculous. Ya see up to that point, it was playing it smart, keeping me on my toes and using ambiguity as a weapon. Now the WHY behind the madness was not the problem, its how the film u-turned out of left field, just dropped me there and expected me to go with it that was.
I actually don't get how this sad sack finale could've happened. I mean this is a Studio picture, they must have test screened it no? I mean how can NOBODY behind the film pick up on the fact that the last 15 minutes were a joke?! If there is one cap-off that deserved further dough for a healthy re-shoot it was this one. In my coin-less opinion, this fucko should've a ran in the direction it was initially going and capitalize on what it had built thus far instead of taking a right at the left to stroll down a new, and subpar direction. In its attempt to "surprise me" it took a big dump on the golden bricks it had been laying out and literally RUINED itself. What a shame!
Somebody in Hollywood once told me: A film is as good as its ending, because that's what the audience leaves with. And he was right. Even though THE LAST EXORCISM had me care about its characters, situation and had me glued to the screen as to its chain of events, the tacky and groan inducing conclusion killed it. Hey who knows! Maybe that ending will work for ya and you'll come out happy as a pig in shit... I didn't. For me, it was one hour of quality ERASED by 15 minutes of non-sense. Fascinating! The Power of Christ compels ya to see this on DVD and save your coin or see Piranha 3D instead!
We get some blood here and there, light cuts and a cracked neck. Red grub was not this ones M.O. and it was all good. Not every horror film is about gore.
T & A
Nothing to see here move along please. I said MOVE ALONG already! Come on! Get to da choppa!
THE LAST EXORCISM had it all; a slick premise, talented actors, a cinema verite vibe that worked and some effective spooky moments. And then it went on to throw it all away with gaps in logic and worse of all; an IMBECILE ending that sucked so much balls that I now can shamelessly call myself a ball-less man. In my 10 years of running this site and writing reviews; I have never seen a film shoot itself in the foot so severely within such a short time frame. There should be an award for that!
The flick was shot in Louisiana, USA.
Daniel Stamm's first mockumentary was called A Necessary Death (2008)
The film was written by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland who also wrote and directed: The Virginity Hit (2010)
Caleb Landry Jones will play Sean Cassidy / Banshee in X-Men: First Class (2011)