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
Shipped to theaters under the code name "Scrutiny". 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 »
A solid frightener for Halloween, if you let the film take you where it wants to take you
Taking the pulse of a horror-loving film community in 2010, "The Last Exorcism" is like a document of pop culture history in its mix of marketing and aesthetics. Trying to out-Paranormal-Activity "Paranormal Activity 2" this Halloween will be a genuine challenge for the Eli Roth produced film, but the fauxumentary's premise does have a few genuine thrills and chills going for it, making it a decent double-bill screening for game fans of the genre. Appropriating the best narrative and visual tropes from its direct influences, namely "Marjoe", "The Exorcist" and even the recent "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" in how it wrenches out a mystery element, director Daniel Stamm uses the newly fresh-again format of documented horror to elevate the drama inherent in an exorcism's taut chamber piece setting. There is a good chance here of being firmly disturbed, if you let the film take you where it wants to take you.
Armed with a genial personality and powerful charisma, Louisiana's Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) goes around the country performing fake exorcisms on the believing. Tired of his lifestyle, he enlists a filmmaker, Iris Reisen (Iris Bahr) and her unseen cameraman (Adam Grimes) to document his final foray into the fraud as he prepares a venture into real estate after a personal tragedy. Following the reverend's exposé on the sham rituals of exorcisms, the film crew finds the beginnings of a real case of demonic possession in Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), a shy and gentle girl with a shotgun-toting, fundamentalist father (Louis Herthum) worried about the dark and heinous things occurring on the farmhouse.
Fabian's depiction of the Reverend is terrific fun. He brings out so much of the character that it only enlivens the film and makes it feel all too real while newcomer Bell also shows some strong chops (and flexible limps) for this genre. The film takes its settings seriously and Stamm builds the foundation cleverly and patiently for powerfully unsettling moments. There's a good sense about the screenplay -- not exceedingly smart for its good but not too detached from its conceit that the illusion is never broken. The single perspective thorough the documentarian's lenses helps focus the story into the visceral and direct scenes of terror, almost taking on a life of its own. While the story does tend to falter till the end, the strength of its conviction to juggle the various layers apparent makes its intrigue palpable.
While never being a thrill-a-minute fright-fest on the level of "Rec 2", "The Last Exorcism" is a sophisticated and confident manipulation of the format is a treat. Its mockumentary aesthetics are refined and brought into fruition well enough to tell a tale of faith and disbelief, the unknown and unknowable darkness that exists beyond our rationalities.
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