Considering this film is produced by Eli Roth, one would expect his influence to add the usual gruesome torture porn we’ve come to expect from him. Contrary to this notion, The Last Exorcism is a slow paced documentary style film that builds with suspense and creepiness but ultimately leaves one confused.
The mockumentary horror film, directed by Daniel Stamm, begins by showing us the life of Reverend Cotton Marcus, a man of faith born and bred to preach the gospel. Like his father before him, he provides saving to those who believe, but ultimately through his experience in life he has come to find he might not believe in god himself. When his son was born after a high-risk complication, he admits he thanked his doctors instead of god. Between this fact and believing exorcisms are a load of baloney, he embarks on this quest to try and prove it’s all a bunch of hogwash.
He leads his film crew which consists of filmmaker Iris Reisen (Iris Bahr) and cameraman Daniel Moskowitz, deep in the heart of Ivanwood, Louisiana, where the belief of evil and demons is religious fact of life. He has been called upon for help from a man by the name of Louis Sweetzer who is having trouble with his livestock. During the night they are systematically killed and his daughter is the one with blood on her hands the next morning. Sweetzer believes his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) is possessed.
The realistic style in which The Last Exorcism is done really adds to the tension and build-up of what transpires over the course of two days. You will be wide eyed with disbelief that Marcus and his crew’s determination stands strong and continue to help this family after the danger they are put in. You’ll also be wondering whether or not Nell is in fact possessed. Is the father actually deranged? Is there an incestuous relationship going on with her brother Caleb or perhaps her father? Ashley Bell who plays Nell gives an utterly creepy performance as does Caleb Landry Jones who plays her brother.
There was a scene where Nell gets her hand on the camera which allows the audience to view everything through her eyes, and I found this to be a fantastic added perspective which added to the overall creepiness.
If you pay attention there are a few elements of foreshadowing that will have you guessing the end, yet the film still managed to put doubts in your mind about it’s actual ending. Sometimes this type of ‘leave em hanging’ end works and perpetuates intelligent thought about the movie once the credits roll, however there were loose ends and from a horror film I expect some closure.
Running Time: 87 minutes