A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
The timely story of a normal family disintegrating under financial pressure, eventually driven to the unimaginable. We witness the terrifying events unfold through daughter Judith's video camera, which subsequently becomes Exhibit A.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the evangelical Reverend Cotton Marcus was raised by his father to be a preacher. He agrees that the filmmaker Iris Reisen and the cameraman Daniel Moskowitz make a documentary about his life. Cotton tells that when his wife Shanna Marcus had troubles in the delivery of their son Justin, he prioritized the doctor help to God and since then he questions his faith. Further, he tells that exorcisms are frauds but the results are good for the believers because they believe it is true. When Cotton is summoned by the farmer Louis Sweetzer to perform an exorcism in his daughter Nell, Cotton sees the chance to prove to the documentary crew what he has just told. They head to Ivanwood and they have a hostile reception from Louis's son Caleb. Cotton performs the exorcism in Nell, exposing his tricks to the camera, but sooner they learn that the dysfunctional Sweetzer family has serious problems. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The film's poster was banned in the UK after receiving complaints deeming the image offensive. See more »
Despite being a film composed of "found footage," several scenes in the film are scored in the typical horror movie fashion (screeching violins, thumping bass, acoustic guitars). This would presumably be absent from a collection of footage showing such disturbing events, and obviously could not have been added in post production by the characters. See more »
After seeing "Paranormal Activity," I decided to take a break from the "found footage" horror film. That's right. I decided to skip "The Last Exorcism" when it was in theaters. However, the critical praise poured in and the hype started to build. So, I finally watched the film on DVD. And I gotta say, I was so surprised.
Reverend Cotton Marcus is an evangelist minister. He's done his fair share of exorcisms, but he sees them as a bunch of bull. Cotton gets a letter to come down to another part of Louisiana to perform an exorcism. He accepts, and decides to bring a camera crew with him to film the footage of what is to be his last exorcism. Enter the farm of the Sweetzer family: Religious father Lewis, his weird and rude son Caleb, and his sweet 16 year old daughter, Nell. Nell is the one that is supposedly possessed and could be the one killing the livestock. Cotton sees Nell's actions, and he dismisses them as the behavior of an insane, abused young girl. But what if he's wrong?
We've had plenty of possession flicks, ranging from the profane and disturbing classic "The Exorcist" to the recently well-done court drama/horror film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." Going into this one, the audience gets a feel that they've seen this before. How wrong they were. "The Last Exorcism" is a possession flick, but it's so much more well-done than you'd expect it to be. And it's scarier too.
After such movies as "The Blair Witch Project," "Quarantine," and "Paranormal Activity," "The Last Exorcism" does follow the "found footage" formula like those before it. Like Oren Peli, director Daniel Stamm has a keen and sensational visual eye, offering up a healthy dose of suspense, terrifying "BOO!" moments, and the gut-wrenchingly violent and frightening behavior of Nell Sweetzer.
Screenwriters Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland have written a script that avoids the classic horror movie clichés and pulls out all the stops. Once the story gets going, there's no stopping it. Nell's actions start off strange and grow increasingly more horrific as the movie goes on. I don't know if Hitchcock was a fan of demonic horror, but he would be proud with the story Botko and Gurland have weaved.
Next to the "found footage" concept, what elevates "The Last Exorcism" above others is its music. Usually, in order to achieve the raw "home camera" feel, there is never any music in a horror film like this. However, Nathan Barr composes some truly creepy music that gets under your skin as equally as the movie does.
A mostly unknown cast of actors give performances to remember, especially Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell as Cotton and Nell. Sure, Cotton has faith, but he doesn't believe in the devil. The character could have come off as extremely obnoxious. But Fabian gives the role a fantastic third dimension that allows you to care about Cotton. Bell's portrayal of Nell Sweetzer is absolutely unbelievable. Like Jennifer Carpenter in "Emily Rose," playing a possessed teen is not easy. Bell gives the role all of the layers it needs to look real. She is sweet when she has to be, and the same goes for when she's pure evil. Also, Nell's body-cracking movements don't come off as CGI. It looks like Bell is doing all the work, making her performance just as good.
During the movie, I chose not to compare it to "Paranormal Activity," and it works better that way. "The Last Exorcism" and Oren Peli's film equal each other out. This film doesn't offer up a slow build up, and just sends you on a roller coaster ride unlike any other. "The Last Exorcism" is one of the best nail-biters of 2010, and call me crazy, but it comes pretty close to being the "Exorcist" of our generation. It is incredibly scary, and for a PG-13 horror movie, it gets away with a lot of stuff. It will stay with you long after you've left the theater or turned off your DVD player, and it will leave you with questions. Was God anywhere when needed? Was Nell really possessed or just crazy? You'll soon find out. And I don't care what anybody says. The ending is a stunner.
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