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Score another one for hand-held horror
Cujo10812 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Cotton Marcus is a minister who performs fake exorcisms for money. Raised by his reverend father, he has been doing this since he was a child, but he has come to question his faith or whether he ever even truly had any at all. After reading about a kid who died during a botched exorcism, Cotton decides to have a film crew document his final fake exorcism in an attempt to prove what a farce the whole thing is and prevent others from dying. The subject of the exorcism is Nell Sweetzer, a teenage girl who lives with her father and brother in rural Louisiana. Things don't go as planned.

I am incredibly fond of the hand-held sub-genre of horror that has become increasingly popular over the last decade. With the exception of "The St. Francisville Experiment", I have yet to see one that I've outright hated. Even George Romero's heavily maligned "Diary of the Dead" wasn't horrible, though I did find it a disappointing effort overall. For me, the first person point of view works like a charm in creating a more intimately frightening atmosphere. "The Last Exorcism" proves to be yet another example of this. The backwoods Louisiana locations are eerie enough to begin with, but they're further magnified by the first person style. What we see is never said to be found footage either, so the presence of a music score and the varying camera angles didn't bother me. I just see it as a film seen from the viewpoint of a documentary crew's camera, not as if it were someone's found footage being shown to me.

"The Last Exorcism" doesn't jump right into it's horror, as it spends a fair amount of time on character development. That's always refreshing, especially since the horror genre is so often devoid of it. It's also of particular importance here, as Cotton's character arc really pays off in the end. The image of him walking towards the flames, cross raised, has been burned into my mind since watching this film. It's a potent moment, all the more so due to the story's focus on character building. The acting is also most impressive, and there isn't a bad performance in the bunch. Patrick Fabian truly reminded me of an actual preacher in spite of his character's stance for most of the picture. Ashley Bell was also fantastic as the girl possessed, while Iris Bahr gives the film's most underrated performance as one of the documentarians. Louis Herthum does well as Nell's father, but the fluctuations in his character bothered me. He seemed to jump from one conclusion to another too quickly, and the scene of him chasing the crew around the house with his shotgun felt awkward. The writing for his character was my main issue with the film.

When the horror does show up, it's of the more subdued variety. Daniel Stamm focuses his film's scares more on the unnerving mood of the wooded area and the religious themes. Like the characters, the mood is allowed to build. The exorcism scene in the barn isn't as over-the-top as one might expect, which is frankly something that I appreciated. The lack of outlandish effects and ridiculous hysterics was a plus rather than a minus. The quiet, understated form of horror is almost always more effective than an in your face approach. As for the ending, I'm firmly in the camp of being all for it. It was a wonderful little throwback to all the devil cult pictures of the 70's, and it's clearly hinted at throughout the film. As mentioned earlier, it also brings Cotton's character arc to it's pinnacle, leading to that haunting shot foretold by Nell's drawing. Aside from the 70's cult influence, you can also see shades of both "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cannibal Holocaust" in the ending.

I must admit that I didn't expect much out of this one. It flew under my radar for a good while, but I'm pleased to say that it wound up being a welcome highlight in a year that has been quite weak for the horror genre.
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A decent film for people who like AND understand horror
rjn53827 August 2010
I've been reading the reviews and felt the need to clarify a few things in case you're reading these reviews, debating whether or not to see this film.

1. It is not the worst horror film ever. People who say something like that obviously have not seen enough horror films to know the worst ones. By no means is this movie a revolutionary breakthrough that will reinvigorate the horror genre, but the film does a good job at making a decent exorcism movie documentary-style.

2. The video camera shaking is not that bad. Yes, it shakes, but that's the style of the movie. Get over it. If you don't like that style at all and are always made sick by it, don't see it.

3. To say the ending was ambiguous and left people missing the themes of the movie and therefore a bad choice is also a bit ridiculous. If you saw the movie Inception and still loved it despite the "ambiguous" feeling the film left you with and the obsessive pondering over what actually happened in the last dreams sequence then you can't complain at this ending which was NO WHERE near as complex. If you take a few minutes to work it out (talk amongst your friends if need be), the ending is not ambiguous at all.

4. The filmmakers themselves never claim that this is actual footage. So stop worrying about "how they found the camera footage" in the first place. The filmmakers made a work of fiction, and I'm sure they hope their audience understands this.

I can't deal with all the critiques, but to comment on the films good qualities:

It does add a few different takes on the "classic" form of an exorcism film such as the documentary-style, the characters, and particularly the ending.

As far as scariness, you have to understand the nature of what makes a good exorcism horror and good documentary horror: the "sluggish build up" (as many juvenile critics have termed it) is everything. What makes these movies great is that you, for a while, forget you're in a horror movie and start to believe you're watching real events unfold. You can split hairs over how long the film needs to convince you that these people and situations are real but without it you have no movie, or no good exorcism/documentary horror film. With it's slower (I wouldn't use sluggish) beginning the film hopes to sincerely connect you with the characters and believable setups so that when bizarre events do occur you are more likely to (sincerely) accept them and be frightened by them. No, the movie was not overwhelming scary. It doesn't go for cheap jump out moments (maybe once or twice) or CGI animations of demons popping out everywhere. But it does deliver a more realistic approach to child possession than most of its predecessors, which is pretty scary.

The ending is definitely a big moment for people's final judgment of the film, because it goes in such a different direction from what the rest of the film points too. But as stated before it is not ambiguous. All I will say is keep an open mind, and realize that this film though documentary-styled is still a work of fiction (again, as stated before). It took me a few moments to adjust once the ending was over, but after some thought I didn't mind the twist. Could it have been better? Definitely. Am I outraged? No. The film makers just wanted to produce something a little different than the expected exorcism ending. Perhaps the biggest upset of the ending is that it detracts from majority of the film's atmosphere of realism.

If you ARE a fan of exorcism movies and movies like the Blair Witch Project or even horror movies in general, The Last Exorcism is a good watch to satisfy your boredom and keep you entertained for an hour and a half, especially if you understand and like the construct of "sluggish build up" and if you have a few extra bucks that you're looking to spend.If your looking for a horror movie that will revive the horror genre for our time, this isn't it. But the film isn't trying to be the next big name in horror, so my rating is based off of the intentions of the film itself. Overall, the movie did it's job in being mildly original, having great acting (considering that this is in fact a lower-budget horror movie), in staying true to the genre, and in delivering an engaging story.
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Finally, a original horror movie !
Viva_Chiba26 September 2010
It's not a remake, thank god, it surprises me why this movie as a score of 5.9 ! This is one of the best movies of 2010 and one of the best mockumentaries ever made.

The concept is well executed and the story is interesting, there are plot twist, that i am not going to spoil it.

Is this better than "The Exorcist" ? don't know what to answer. Is this better than "Paranormal Activity" ? INDEED !!!!!. Is this boring like most of the PG-13 "Horror movies" ? No the hell this movie was PG-13 ?!?!?!? the atmosphere is too "scary" and there are a few "shock" moments, even some thematic elements in the plot are too inappropriate for a "PG-13",

Ignore the all the negative comments here, watch it and be surprised ! Good work Daniel Stamm, 2 thumbs up on your work and thank you Eli Roth, for having supported a original horror movie !
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Great suspense drama thats had a grossly misleading marketing hype
theycallmemrglass26 August 2010
Saw this as a preview in London.

I do not blame any of my fellow reviewers here for slamming this down as the worst horror film. Indeed it is, if you watch this expecting to be scared out of your wits.

But this is not that film. The marketing for this movie, though brilliant, is criminally misleading.

This is a movie with a very clever spin on the normal exorcist fare. What this turns out be is a fascinating suspense drama using exorcism as a narrative tool.

I found the script to be very clever and entertaining. The main lead actor who plays the reverend is very charismatic and carries the whole movie. Admittedly, the movie would be half of what it is without his performance. The other actors, particularly the teenage victim who maybe possessed by a demon, are very good too.

What I didn't like most is the very end. It felt tacked on for the sake of living up to its misleading marketing. I can honestly say that if the film ended 10 minutes earlier, I would have been totally satisfied with a complete film and was ready for the credits.

However, there are attempts to make you jump out of your seat but unfortunately, these moments are too copy cat of the techniques used in Sixth Sense and similar. It may be effective to some but I feel it could have been done better and hence live up to the marketing hype after all! But those are small negatives. This is a movie very much worth watching, if you don't hate mockumentary style films. Lower your expectations, ignore the marketing and just enjoy a clever suspense drama. If you jump a few times, then think of it as a bonus.
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A Good Movie with a Poor Conclusion
claudio_carvalho24 January 2011
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the evangelical Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) was raised by his father to be a preacher. He agrees that the filmmaker Iris Reisen (Iris Bahr) and the cameraman Daniel Moskowitz (Adam Grimes) make a documentary about his life. Cotton tells that when her wife Shanna Marcus (Shanna Forrestall) had troubles in the delivery of their son Justin (Justin Shafer), 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 (Louis Herthum) to perform an exorcism in his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell), 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 (Caleb Landry Jones). Cotton performs the exorcism in Nell, exposing his tricks to the camera, but sooner they learn that the dysfunctional Sweetzer family has serious problems.

"The Last Exorcism" is a good movie that follows the same style of "The Blair Witch Project", "Cloverfield", "(Rec)", "(Rec2)" and "Paranormal Activity"), with a hand-held camera simulating a documentary. The acting is very realistic but unfortunately the poor conclusion ruins the ambiguity of the good story. Anyway I liked this film, specially the great performances of Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian and Louis Herthum. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Último Exorcismo" ("The Last Exorcism")
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A solid frightener for Halloween, if you let the film take you where it wants to take you
moviexclusive28 October 2010
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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What An Exorcism!!!
zardoz-132 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"The Last Exorcism" amounts to something more than the abysmal "Blair Witch Project." This above-average, 87-minute, Lionsgate release doesn't rely entirely on wobbly camera movements for its impact. Indie Teutonic director Daniel Stamm lenses the action as if it were a straight-forward documentary. Meantime, a sense of irony permeates this unobtrusive epic that isn't entirely apparent on initial viewings. The chief difference between "The Last Exorcism" and "The Blair Witch Project" is its sophistication that I missed when I saw it the first two times. Stamm employs the cinema vérité camera style when he wants you on the edge of your seat. Mind you, nothing scary happens up front. Audiences who crave blood and gore may feel cheated. Just when you think you might see something bloodcurdling, Stamm cuts away to a reaction shot of people looking at what you want to see. Any shots in "The Last Exorcism" that would have required blood and gore as well as slashed up body parts were omitted. In one scene, the demon-possessed girl kills an angry white cat, and its remains look like a heap of bloody rags. Rated PG-13, "The Last Exorcism" uses the single-camera approach to accentuate its suspense and the tension. Nevertheless, Stamm spawns a surfeit of suspense and tension by playing it cool. "The Last Exorcism" does pale by comparison with the mother of all exorcism movies "The Exorcist" and lacks a tenth of "The Exorcist's" impact. Meantime, Stamm and his scribes create some genuinely creepy atmosphere in the remote backwoods settings where "The Last Exorcism" occurs and many of the home-grown performers are convincing, especially Patrick Fabian as a minister who is having a crisis of faith. This one point eight million dollar film was a success, earning over $40 million domestically.

Indeed, "Broken Condom" scenarists Huck Botka and Andrew Gurland establish the character of the protagonist, Reverend Cotton Marcus of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a sympathetic fellow who wants to expose exorcism as a scam. In Cotton's own words, he doesn't want to read about another unfortunate adolescent dying because an exorcist wrapped a bag around the child's head in his zeal to oust a demon. Cotton (Patrick Fabian of "Must Love Dogs"), has been preaching since he was knee high to a pulpit. He comes from a long family line of preachers who also served as exorcists. His father, Reverend John Marcus (John Wright, Jr. of "Waiting Room"), has performed 150 exorcisms, and Cotton carried out his first exorcism when he was age ten. Cotton's father owns a 'who's who' of all the demons. He keeps this vintage leather-bound volume written in Latin locked up in an office safe. Nevertheless, Cotton isn't entirely happy with his career as an exorcist and he wants to atone. Like the religious figures in all exorcist movies, Cotton is wrestling with his conscience about what he has done in the name of God. Cotton confides in us that exorcisms are more popular now than ever. He brandishes a newspaper article about an exorcist academy that the Vatican has instituted to help combat the scarcity of exorcists. Cotton has a pile of exorcism requests stacked up on his desk. He selects an 'urgent' letter at random. A single-parent, Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum of "In the Electric Mist") of Ivanwood, Louisiana, who believes his 16-year-old daughter, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell of "The Truth about Angels"), is afflicted with demonic possession. Of course, Cotton thinks all the poor girl is suffering from is schizophrenia. Louis shows Cotton a disemboweled cow in his barn. When Cotton talks to Nell, he finds some disturbing artwork, but he believes he can handle this case with relative ease.

Unfortunately, Reverend Marcus finds himself in a bigger predicament. Initially, he conducted an exorcism—that he faked with a magician's finesse—and everything went off without a hitch. Nell recovered. Cotton counted Lewis' money. Cotton and his camera crew left the premises to spend the time in a motel. Cotton didn't tell the Sweetzers where they were checking in for the night. Imagine Cotton's surprise when Nell shows up at their motel. He carries Nell to the local hospital, and they discover Nell is pregnant. When Louis learns the truth, he swears that a demon has raped his virgin daughter. Earlier, Louis' oddball son, Caleb Sweetzer (Caleb Landry Jones of "No Country for Old Men"), had told Cotton that his father was a drunkard. Predictably, Cotton suspects Louis may have raped his daughter. Meantime, Louis demands that Cotton perform another exorcism. Louis is fully prepared to kill his own daughter with a shotgun to save her immortal soul if Cotton refuses. Cotton and his camera crew find Nell's latest art work, and the unseen photographer doesn't like the idea that he is depicted in the picture as a man without a head. At this point, things really begin to twist and turn.

The genius of "The Last Exorcism" lays in its superb sense of irony. The first-act is flawless as we watch Cotton prepare his charade. By the second and third acts, you realize this is more than just another found footage flick and that Cotton is battling more than simple superstition. This movie wallows in its own sense of irony because Cotton refuses to believe in demons. Since he rejects demons, Cotton has lost his faith. Indeed, he presents an expose of his own exorcism and demonstrates how he uses a sound system to frighten his clients. A local minister and his obese wife serve as comic relief, but "The Last Exorcism" doesn't conjure up many laughs because it is so powerful. Stamm knows how to generate suspense, without calling attention to his real agenda. This chiller boils down to a compelling an expose about a non-believer who confronts the reality of a world he abhors. "The Last Exorcism" succeeds as a memorable exercise of terror because the filmmakers shun blood and gore so we cannot take our eyes off the exorcism.
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An underwhelming effort
meininky19 August 2010
Ambiguity is a powerful tool for a writer, filmmaker, or any creative person. But there's a fine line between ambiguity and lazy storytelling. The Last Exorcism, unfortunately, makes use of the latter. The film poses many questions but doesn't feel the need to answer most of them, meaning at the end of the film, the audience isn't so much pondering the themes of religious doubt and the adverse effects of shame so much as wondering what the hell just happened.

The lack of clarity is only made more frustrating by the overly shaky handy-cam cinematography. I normally enjoy this mode of filmmaking, and it was proved to be effective for horror films in last year's phenomenal breakout Paranormal Activity, but Daniel (the cameraman) has a bit too shaky of a hand for the style to work well here. I actually got a headache from some of the later, jumpier scenes.

It's a shame the film meanders to such a laughable conclusion, because it starts with such promise. The first half hour or so is surprisingly funny, effectively parodying the genre (specifically exorcism-based horror films) and presenting a religious slant to the proceedings that makes things interesting initially but ultimately seems cheap and even stupid. Two fine performances from Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell are wasted as the material goes from subtly self-reflexive to blatantly generic. The horror that unfolds along the way rarely generates any real scares, settling instead for bursts of weirdness, cheap jumps, and ultimately, an unattractive mixture of stupidity and discomfort.
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The trickster
chaos-rampant11 January 2012
The whole setup here is that we have a professional actor - paid to put on shows about fire and brimstone - who will need to discern over the course of the film who is putting on the show he finds himself in. A film crew is turning this into a movie, presumed to reveal hidden mechanisms that move spectators. Turns out something else is controlling the thing and moving parts we thought we knew all about and possibly us. This will test his mettle as a showman himself, let's say his faith in the healing power of his act (art?). Is the girl acting out some repressed sexual trauma? Is the father, at the same time covering his tracks with Jesus babble? Or is the demon, the great trickster? (a mild problem here is that, the film being what it is, we never really wonder, do we?)

This is excellent stuff and could have worked as more than horror. Indeed, until the last part horror is intermittent here. Our focus is on juggling one show as part of another while getting to decide which one horrifies more. The choice for 'found footage' is one of the better applications I've seen in terms of structure; it means we have one more show running behind the other two, and one that we use to look for the real root of horror. There are many dramatic shots in the flow, but we can chalk these to the presence of a professional cameraman.

The ending has been reported as problematic. Oh, it is graphic but in ways that have become a staple in films dealing with some extraordinary demonic darkness; Polanski, Rosemary as well as Ninth Gate, the Hammer shocker The Devil Rides Out, Night of the Demon, recently Drag me to Hell. Many viewers bemoan the revelation and tend to prefer the whole thing coated in whispers and rumors. Fair point.

It works for me because it allows us to recast evil as another staged trick. Another group of people are brought in at the last moment to enact a show, the real deal this time. Real fire and brimstone. Death comes as storyboarded earlier.

If you're interested in the scam priest angle, it's only a light-hearted jab at faith here. Watch Marjoe for a more chilling portrait, the '72 documentary on the "World's Youngest Ordained Minister".
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The Last Exorcism: A Big, Super-Creepy Surprise!
eytand947 January 2011
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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Interesting enough that I didn't care it didn't scare me...
RevRonster15 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When this came out, I didn't bother to watch it because all "found footage" films feel the same to me and they never scare me. However, when the sequel came out, I decided to give it a shot and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

I really dug the story of seeing a documentary film crew follow a disillusioned preacher who, after answering a letter about a possible possession, sees his faith renewed as he stares directly into the face of evil. Not to mention that Patrick Fabian as the preacher proved to be an amazing actor who kept the story going and kept it engaging.

Granted, I didn't find this film scary at all but the story was very interesting, Fabian was very awesome to watch and the ending was killer! So even without the creep factor, I really dug this horror film!
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Worse than Blair Witch only in slightly better focus
carl525 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone who remembers Blair Witch will have a neon light in their brains flashing "Rip Off!"

Anyone who remembers The Exorcist will have sirens and lights along with the flashing "Rip Off! sign.

And that's before the "Rosemary's Baby" TOTAL F*CKING RIPOFF alarm bells sound.

Knowledgeable Christians will gasp at a Baptist minister waving around a Catholic cross, and why he's fluent in the Latin of his Catholic book of demons having never studied it. And the mish-mash of religious icons, many of them Catholic, decorating the house of a fervent fundamentalist.

Despite earnest, professional performances from the entire cast, the amateurism of the writers and director can't be overcome. For example, the filmmakers (or rather, videomakers) idea of "foreshadowing" is to show a drawing of something or someone dying and then five minutes later we see that event actually happening. Oooh.

And it has probably the worst "non ending" in film history. Nothing is answered. You won't know what happened to anyone except the faux cameraman who gets killed just like the drawing showed he would five minutes earlier. But apparently his final act in life is to turn off his camera so the movie ends. I guess all those Rip Off alarms were foreshadowing the audience getting ripped off.

Producer Eli Roth told the premiere audience that the marketing for this movie would be 100% word of mouth and fan-driven, which is industry speak meaning the distributor was not going to spend a nickel advertising this piece of... (Smart distributor.) Roth implored the crowd to tweet and post positive reviews of this movie, adding that "if you don't like it, please keep your f*cking mouth shut!"

Director Daniel Stamm also warned the front row audience that they were going to get motion sickness, meaning they never used a tripod or steadicam. The camera movement wasn't that bad, but never rose above the run and gun video style of any COPS episode.

If you're 16, have zero knowledge of any past horror movies, and get scared by LOUD BANGS, then this movie is for you. The further away you are from those three criteria, the further away you should run from this movie.
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A disappointing waste of talent and time
aharris79429 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The only saving grace of this movie is that the majority of the actors gave it their all and pulled off great individual performances considering what they were given to work with. Don't get me wrong, the ensemble did not work cohesively in the film at all.

Like many of you have already seen, the previews to this movie are misleading, making this look like an attempt at an old school horror flick. The story is original, in that Pastor Marcus is "filming this documentary in an attempt to expose exorcism for the scam that it is", but finds a genuine demonic possession. There was no need to 'trick' film-goers by making the previews this way; it just sets them up for disappointment.

Personally, I was completely surprised at the beginning of the film, in a good way; it seemed that I was going to get an original story line! But alas, I was setting my hopes too high. Predictable "twists" came one after another, and 30 minutes into the film, I had it figured out.

The film never developed an even pace, and certain elements became increasingly frustrating by the end of the movie, for instance, the "cameraman" only using the camera's light a third of the time it would have been appropriate for him to do so; the shaky-cam "found footage" technique executed without any originality; and the fact that this film had a musical score all killed the escapism, keeping me from believing a minute of the story.

I'm not even going to bring up the details of the ridiculous excuse of an ending. I had hoped Eli Roth would have tried something other than the "doesn't make any sense and takes everything away from the film" ending that effects every movie he's attached to, but even as a producer, the ending has his fingerprints all over it.

Mr. Roth, you owe us all more. Get back to Cabin Fever - you showed so much potential, and yet your skills have yet to mature.
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Horror fans, AVOID this film
CUMSHOT16 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on August 16th.

-I had a bad feeling before the movie began when they introduced Eli Roth & the two main actors, including the leading woman who plays the possessed chick. Eli cracked way too many jokes, humoring & hyping up the crowd. I thought this was a bad move, as if we're supposed to treat this like a Scream-type experience. Fun, but enjoy the 'boo!'-like scares. I thought it would've been better off to just turn off the lights & start the movie, setting the mood for something terrifying. It didn't help that we were introduced the actors first, making it hard to buy into the story.

-There's way too much humor in this movie that it became impossible to suspend my beliefs & be involved in the story.

-After a suspenseful moment, it would be followed up by another wise crack. The audience by far laughed more than letting out scares.

-It's supposedly 'found footage'...but it has a score?! During all build ups for the suspenseful moments, you'll hear a note from a cello, or eerie ambiance as if you were watching a film...but we're supposed to believe that this is documentary video? -These were actors acting to a script, there was no sense of improv a la REC & REC 2. The exchange in dialogue, reactions appeared way too rehearsed.

-There's one camera man filming this thing. But the editing/camera work was amateurish. I.E. There's a shot of the main priest taking off his blazer, then immediately cuts to the opposite angle showing him finishing taking off his blazer, as if it were done in one shot. It looked like there were either 2 camera men, or had another camera placed on a tripod capturing the shot. Way too many instances of this happening, it looked too professionally done for a 'found footage' type documentary. The reason why REC was far more effective is because the actors weren't told much of the things that would happen during scenes. Also, lot of the footage was done in one or just a few takes, which mostly were long, drawn out shots.

-The last 10 minutes of the movie made me wonder how many times they must have changed their minds how it should've ended. It was a mess, & will leave you in disbelief for all the wrong reasons.

I love my horror, I really wanted to like this movie, I'm not comparing it to The Exorcist, my girlfriend treated me on my birthday to watch this & we were both immensely disappointed. Eli Roth introduced this movie saying they wanted to create something original, I can only surmise that it did just that in showing how to deliver something so watered down & downright trailerpark movie trash.
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More of a scared movie than a scary movie
MosHr20 August 2010
This is Hollywood storytelling at its frustratingly safest; an attempt to appease everyone and but in the end not pleasing anybody. It will not please horror fans because of the lack of scares and gore; it will not please the general audiences looking for a thriller because of its logic defying supernatural events that muddles up the storytelling and I suspect it will not appease the religious audiences since it takes a bit of negative view of exorcism and preaching. I think part of this is the reason that the pacing of the story is completely off; it builds up slowly and then bam, it's completely over the top.

The movie starts off rather well with the pastor looking to expose exorcism as a hoax with a documentary team that lands them in a perfect breeding ground for the possessed. It is at its best when it slowly builds up the situation careening out of control, not by supernatural forces but by the characters themselves. However, at this point the movie itself gets too scared to make its way to a conclusion and takes the way out via ambiguity trying to appease as broad an audience as possible. The end is so rushed and muddled that it just ends up as confusing and unfinished; someone in the audience actually said that a sequel better be made, mistaking the ending for a cliffhanger.
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Possibly the Worst horror flick ever?
g-smart96621 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I usually like low-budget horror movies. I really wanted to like this, but it SUCKS. The whole production is amateurish. It's all done hand-held and very shaky. You are supposed to believe this whole thing was found-footage. The audience I saw it with were laughing more than being scared. That's because it's very hard to take the movie seriously. The priest (Cotton) is not the worst actor but the way he's filmed destroys any credibility the movie could have had. The last ten or fifteen minutes were so bad I could not believe they released it that way. Oh well. I was hoping to get scared but I was just either bored, or laughing at how bad it was. It's too bad because it had potential to be scary but it just blew it. It's just way too amateurish and long.
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What happened to horror movies??
skaterfreak80929 August 2010
What's happened to horror movies these days?

"The Last Exorcism" should be exactly as the title predicts, the LAST of its kind.

The movie follows a preacher, Cotton, and his small film crew as they try to document him performing an exorcism on a young girl thought to be possessed by a demon. You learn quickly of Cotton's dying faith and that his performed "exorcisms" are no more than scams he puts on so that his family can pay the bills. However, Cotton may have taken on more than he bargained for as he reluctantly learns there may be more to this scenario than meets the eye...

So when I first sat down for this movie, I initially thought it was only me and my group of friends who had a hard time connecting with what was being displayed in front of us. Yes, there were a few moments of panic in the theater, a few quick jumps and screams made by all, but in the end the most common noise heard was laughter... well, laughter and outrage. EVERYONE seemed to be making jokes about this movie. The people behind us, in front of us, next to us... it seemed no one was able to really find any connection with any of the characters or what was going on in the film at all. It was for the most part predictable, to the point where half way through the movie they pretty much just tell you exactly how it will end.

And so with the end enters the outrage. Never before have I gone to a movie that ends with literally the entire theater crying out in anger at what they had just witnessed. It was almost as the people making the movie just gave up, giving the audience anything but a thought provoking ending and instead just giving everyone an abrupt smack in the face. They give you no time to let what you are seeing sink in, and you leave the theater so disappointed that you don't even care to fill in the holes. Even making the connections now, I find myself more disappointed than anything that I had to sit through such a film.

I give the movie 2/10. It would have gotten 1/10 except as I mentioned, it did deliver I guess what you could call a few minor scares. Overall it was pretty bad... if you have any plans of seeing this movie, you may want to reconsider you options.
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Stop with the handi-cam and "found" videotape!
eebmtl4 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First I would like to say that at least two of the reviews to date are shills.

The film starts out promisingly enough, character development is strong for our protagonist and when we arrive in the deep south the slow build of suspense is palatable, so far I'm a happy camper! The introduction of the possessed girl continues the intrigue, what am I complaining about!? But then it's all downhill, cliché after cliché, culminating in the big finale that seems very much tacked on, like they didn't have and ending and re-writer #17 came up with this dung.

Then the last guy to go is the cameraman and we get to view the found tapes!!!! I'm sick of it.

The only time I saw this work was for 84 Charlie Mopic, yes I thought, Blair Witch, Cloverfield et al stunk.

It was a joke at our screening listening to the representatives of Alliance telling us to enhance our reactions for the infrared cameras "because we might get in the commercial", oh WOW just like Paranormal Activity, another turd! This entire genre is way past it's shelf life, all that's going on is studios following another "template of past success" and putting out inferior films to keep the bandwagon going.

Hollywood came make truly great films but mostly puts out crap like this that with proper promotion insures box office boffo.

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Last Exorcism-- it worked for me
matt-s-switzer14 October 2010
If you've seen this film, you have an opinion on it. And this is natural given the open ended finale of the movie. For those who haven't seen the movie--don't worry--I don't plan on ruining it by saying anything in this review that you wouldn't know by seeing the preview or anything that would detract from your viewing experience? at least I'll try not to.

The highlight of the movie for me was Pastor Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). He succeeded in weaving together a layered, complex character which is rare for the horror genre. He plays a southern Baptist minister who grew up in the church. As a PK, he was bred to be on the pulpit. One would think that with a lifetime spent in the church, his faith would be devout--quite the opposite. As years have passed, his faith has weakened to a point where now even he doubts.

Another huge plus for me in this film are the ups and downs--one minute your knees are at your chest and you're on the verge of covering your eyes, and the next you're lost in the development of the plot.

No matter what your thoughts on the end of the movie, I challenge someone to dispute the merits of a scary movie to put more emphasis on character development to further the suspense than the typically cheap thrills.
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What the............
scrumpot66628 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The commercials said I would be scared. They said this was the scariest movie I would ever see...........I wanted to be scared silly.......I wasn't. This movie was not scary. It was silly. Things started out just fine. But there wasn't any "real" demon possession. Just "wanna be" evil. If you loved the Exorcist you will hate The Last Exorcism. The movie ended 45 minutes ago and I am still scratching my head trying to figure out why it ended the way it did. Did they run out of ideas? Were they pressed for time? Did the actors and crew have something else they needed to do? Did they know they were going to end up with a stupid movie? Don't waste your time or your money. Go to the rental place and get Paranormal Activitiy and watch it again.
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Feels Repetitive
CSHaviland28 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I could not shake the feeling, while watching The Last Exorcism, that I was watching a movie I'd seen before. The character POV format (pseudo-documentary horror, unfolding through the camera of a character) was attempted by a low budget movie called The Last Broadcast in 1998. Perhaps the title of The Last Exorcism pays homage to The Last Broadcast for originating that trend. (One can trace the pseudo-documentary horror back much further however, such as with The Legend of Boggy Creek in 1972, which used the documentary style of its day -- before the popularization of home video and prosumer-grade video cameras.)

However most people didn't see The Last Broadcast. It had no theatrical distribution. The Blair Witch Project took the exact same idea and executed it better in 1999. They were fortunate enough to land a limited theatrical release with Artisan Entertainment, who came up with a shrewd marketing campaign that drove an unprecedented amount of hype, causing it to sell out a day in advance in some theaters (such as at the Angelika in Greenwich Village, New York City). The publicity turned the format into its own sub-genre, which got old just as fast as it started. It was popular originally because many people were duped (or allowed themselves to be duped) into thinking it might be real video footage left behind by victims of some mysterious murderer. Unfortunately once everyone understood it was fiction, the genie was out of the bottle. It's like learning how stage magicians saw people in half. Once you know the secret, the act is no longer so appealing.

Nevertheless, filmmakers have attempted to repeat the formula and apply it in different ways. Frankly I thought Paranormal was better than The Last Exorcism because, even though everyone knew it was fake-reality fiction. Paranormal was fun to watch unfold, and was sufficiently spooky to sustain disbelief. The Last Exorcism's marketing team wisely didn't promote the movie as being "lost footage" or anything like that, because not only has the novelty run out, it's become more of an insult to the target audience.

The filmmakers simply told their story through the camera held by one of the characters. Which is not as easy at it sounds -- you have to look for excuses to keep that camera running without being contrived, so we don't miss important dialog or plot points.

The actors in The Last Exorcist did a fine job, especially Patrick Fabian who carried 90% of the movie on his back. If he couldn't sell us on the right mixture of ignorance, charisma, and genuine empathy, the movie would have been a dismal failure. The real problem with The Last Exorcism was that the setup took too long. Things didn't get "horrifying" until about the last quarter of the movie, and that didn't leave enough time to play it out. The other problem is that the sense of peril was forced. The only reason our main character, Reverend Cotton Marcus, put his team into danger is because he insisted on helping young woman and her family at all costs, even when he didn't know what was really going on, knew he was over his head, and wouldn't -- despite all rational thinking -- call the police. Unlike The Blair Witch Project, they weren't lost in the woods and helpless to get out of their situation.

I was also confused by the ending. I wasn't exactly sure of the motives behind the cult around the campfire. Were they against the demon or not? If they were against the demon, why did they attack our characters? I feel like I missed something.

A little more work on the script would have helped this movie.
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Worst acting, writing ... don't waste your time!
kaynefred29 August 2010
that film is a blatant marketing propaganda, all but unwatchable for its poor imaginative story, bad acting and no horror!! The worst... the jerky cameras! And the acting, amateur at best.

This movie offers nothing new and original to the genre and will leave you feeling so empty.

Too bad because I was so excited to see it!

The worst thing for me was the perpetual motion of the hand-held camera. It made me feel so dizzy. I had a headache.

I'd rather watch the Blair Witch which had more scares! Save yourself this waste of celluloid.

This was a yawn fest.
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It's like the "Chairman of the Board" of horror flicks
mgmtphd6 September 2010
Shame on you, Eli. I am a huge horror fan, and went to the midnight screening of this movie the day it came out. Your lack of a good, even decent, ending to this movie ruined my night. I sat through the slow first 60 minutes of the movie, giving you the benefit of the doubt. I thought, "Maybe this is going to pick up and turn awesome." Yeah, it didn't. It didn't even turn mediocre. You and the studio execs that green-lighted this film must be in it for the cash flow, because as a work of "art," this is on par with finger-paintings that I did when I was 2. It sucks. Complete garbage. How this film is at 6 stars is beyond me. I want to bring it down to reality, which is probably in the 3 to 4 range. How many idiots out there really think that the ending you came up with made this movie interesting? It was have a problem. All I have to say is, "FU, Eli Roth."
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Absolutely terrible.
melissa-mary28 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I went to this movie hoping for a great horror film, and ended up leaving incredibly disappointed. There is really nothing about an exorcism. The reverend Cotton Marcus never even performs a true exorcism, he's a fraud trying to prove there are no such things as demon possessions. He just watches this girl be possessed by a demon, and doesn't do anything. It ends up being that the whole town is a cult and uses the girl and yada yada. The Reverend and the two camera people end up getting killed, and you find this out within the first 15 minutes because the girl draws pictures or her next victims and bam it's exactly what happens. Such a disappointment. This movie is worse than the Blair Witch Project, at least there you have a some scare factor, this was just a horrible plot line with nothing horror about it. Save your money, it's not worth seeing.
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Not the best exorcism movie out there, but good for a random Tuesday night
tmbenites11 July 2019
I've seen many exorcism movies and many other horror movies in general, while this one is not the most original, it does scratch the "I just want to watch something a little scary before bed" itch.

When I watched the trailer, I was not super intrigued, it honestly looked terrible, but I couldn't find anything better to watch so I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at the solid production. The acting wasn't bad. The plot, while not super creative, was at least a little different than your average exorcism story. And there were a few moments that did creep me out a bit. It's one of those films that have a slow burn at first to create atmosphere and then it starts to throw some creepy images, and moments your way once the action really gets started.

Not the best out there, but definitely a solid choice if you just need something to satisfy the scary movie cravings.
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