Review: The Last Exorcism (2010)
Note: This post contains a portion of a review originally written for CaryCitizen. To read the full review, click here.
Handicam mockumentary-style media is so in right now.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project made a few gazillion dollars at the box-office, there’s been a growing tendency in Hollywood to try and capitalize on the illusion of “reality.” Acknowledge that cameras are present, and you’ve essentially broken down the fourth wall between viewer and the screen. In the past decade alone we’ve seen this spread into so many television shows (The Office, Modern Family) and feature films (Borat, Cloverfield, Quarantine) that it almost doesn’t work anymore. After all, why keep trying to pretend you’re not pretending when so many other properties have already worn out the gimmick? The Last Exorcism is the latest horror film that attempts to use the faux-documentary approach to increase the tension. The good news is that it succeeds more often than it fails.
The plot follows a disillusioned evangelical pastor, Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who after reading about an exorcism gone wrong that resulted in the death of a young boy decides to reveal the truth behind such medieval practices. As someone who’s performed dozens of exorcisms himself, he receives numerous pleas for help in the mail from people all over the country who are convinced one of their loved ones might be possessed by a demon. He picks a letter at random and brings a film crew with him to Louisiana in order to document the real (read: fake) methods behind his exorcisms – tape recordings, smoking crosses, and other devices he will use to convince a client that he’s actually expelled a demon. Of course, once when he arrives at the home of Louis Sweetzer and his daughter Nell, it isn’t long before things start to get really, really weird. Cue extreme body contortions and creepy silhouette shots.