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The Last Exorcism Looks Real

Published August 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
The Last ExorcismThe Last Exorcism
The Last Exorcism is one of those movies shot in faux documentary style so it looks real, man, like real life, man. It’s a better story than Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project, though not quite of the magnitude that Cloverfield achieved.

Review: The Last Exorcism


The characters are better than in any of the other pseudo-documentary films. They’re not just forwarding the plot and none of them overact. They’re actually fully dimensional people who you relate to.

Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is a really engaging personality. Just hearing about his child minister schtick, witnessing the showmanship of his business and his cocky ability to make random references are awesome. He’s a businessman and a success, so any skeptic could appreciate that but he’s still delivering for the faithful.

That sets up the film for cynics in the audience too and he’s really convincing. I’d actually like to see a real documentary about exorcism frauds. That’s an interesting industry where the programming of the fake pageantry is more interesting to me than a “real” possession. Also, I’d be more interested in a story about someone helping a girl overcome abusive trauma than some made up demon story. Sorry, I’m not scared of demons. They’re just movie monsters.

Cotton turns out to be a really good guy who wants to use his powers for good and not evil. He tries to get the dad to stop drinking by pretending God told him too. Nell (Ashley Bell) is so sweet you don’t want anything bad to happen to her. You even believe the brother who’s creepy at first but gets in on the joke and really only wants to protect his sister.



The real violence and creepiness escalates. It’s squirmy gruesome stuff and at that point, Cotton should abstain and call the authorities. That’s what a responsible person dealing with real life would do but it is still a movie. The characters are basically smart. They make real world conclusions based on what they’ve seen. Cotton really wants to expose the story.

You could get away with doing this story in documentary style, but they decided to make it bad documentary style like all the others fake documentaries. A real documentary crew would keep shots in focus and hold still. I’ve never seen a Michael Moore film go out of focus and he does all sorts of crazy protest stuff.

You know who shakes around and loses focus? Hollywood fakers. Even an amateur documentary crew would want to prove they can tell a narrative so they’d have practiced and learned their craft a little. I mean the basic intro stuff, not the possessed handheld scares. I mean simply framing the subject and following the story. And where is that musical score coming from?

I would say it’s unpredictable, because I didn’t predict it would be so predictable. The way it was going at first, I’m surprised it went for the clichés because it seemed like it would be more original. But my telling you this might make it predictable for you. Now when you think it’s going to be surprising you’ll know it’s just going to be what you would have expected if you hadn’t read this review. It does its job for people who would be scared by possession.

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Fred Topel
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