MOVIE: The Last Exorcism (2010)

You know what I really hate?  I really hate it when a movie starts out surprisingly good and then WHAM! turns to complete crap in the final act.

You know, like this one does.  So, so fun.  And then so, so BLARRRGGHHHH!

The Last Exorcism, a fictitious documentary about a pastor’s attempt to debunk the exorcism biz, began a bit on the slow side for me, but quickly ramped up into a successfully creepy demon-neck-contortions-always-give-me-the-willies little thriller, as the girl the pastor aims to expose as being merely mentally ill exposes herself to be pretty frakkin’ possessed instead.

Boy, howdy.

Now, sure, it’s hard to be terribly original when it comes to movies about exorcisms, and this flick is a solid demonstration of that fact.  It’s got all the usual elements:  someone young and sweet (say, a teenage girl who recently lost her mother) is taken over by an evil force that aims to “defile” her from the inside out, a religious figure is called in by the desperate family, that religious person quickly finds things much more horrific than anticipated, and then he’s either successful at saving the innocent lamb (happy!) or he gets chucked out a window and there are, like, three more sequels (sad!).

What made this one work for me (while it was working for me, anyway) was the setting (all scary movies should be set in dark farmhouses in the middle of nowhere in the woods, if you ask me); the disarmingly bright, sincere smile of the victim girl (I was a sucker her for the minute her face lit up over the gift of a pair of red boots — I love my red boots); and the overall concept of a pastor who has lost his faith and become determined to expose the sometimes-dangerous, always-fraudulent nature of his lifelong career as an exorcist.  The whole thing is hokum, he says, and he aims with his film crew to prove it.  Tricks of the trade are revealed, motives are discussed, suckers are eye-rolled at, and all of these things combined, for me anyway,  into a fairly satisfying spin on the whole exorcism flick scene.

UNTIL WE CAME TO THE END.

I wish I could tell you what happens in the last 20 or so minutes of this film, my friends, but movie lover ethics forbid me from spoiling it for you, despite the fact I think NOT knowing is far more likely to end up ruining your day.  Because I can tell you’re intrigued.  I can tell you’re thinking this sort of sounds good, and I’m probably just being an ass about the end anyway, and you should just ignore me and go see it and find out for yourself.

Man, if only I could just TELL you about the end, I could save you $9 and two hours of your life.  This is torture, this ethics thing.  Torture, I tell you.

But I won’t.  I won’t.  I will not.  All I will say is this right here:  IT IS AS BAD AS I AM TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU IT IS.  Not only does it just blatantly rip-off The Blair Witch Project there at the end (right down to including a shot up somebody’s nose, like THAT was an angled camera close-up we ever needed to see again), but the behavior of the people involved in the final scene made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The pastor, the two filmmakers, none of them.  What the. . .?  Why are you. . .?  What were you thinking??

That said, I will report that during the middle 45 minutes or so of this flick, I had my knees pulled up to my chin and I was shoveling popcorn into my mouth mindlessly and by the fistful — I was that riveted.  If I had walked out when I could feel the story change in the wrong direction — and oh, I felt it the moment it shifted, almost like they’d made the whole movie with no clue how to end it, and two weeks before their deadline finally got some high school kid to scribble down a last act, shot it in 90 minutes, slapped it onto the reel with a Band-Aid, and called it good to go — if I had only left RIGHT THEN, I could’ve saved this entire film from itself.

Instead, what I will say is this:  if demons are real, I hope one of them possesses director Daniel Stamm pronto and then pukes all over writers Botko and Gurland.

Amen and hallelujah.

[Prequeue at Netflix, you fool, you fool | View trailer]

Genre: Horror
Cast:  Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones

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11 Responses to “MOVIE: The Last Exorcism (2010)”

  1. Cheryl Says:

    you almost lost me until the popcorn. sometimes it’s worth the $4.50 (I never go to full priced movies) just for the theater popcorn. Pop secret Movie Theater microwave just doesn’t cut it sometimes……

    darn, now I’m going to have to see some trashy third run movie just for the popcorn….

    this is your fault.

  2. megwood Says:

    I will say Pacific Place in Seattle has the best popcorn out of every theater around here. Holy kazow. It’s amazing. Big and fluffy. Worst popcorn, easily, is at Regal Thornton Place. Some day, I should do a ranking.

    My apologies, though, Cheryl!

  3. Liz Says:

    What did I say about never learning, and me?? I’m still planning to rent this movie, even if I end up totally agreeing with you by the ending. It still looks interesting to me. I was planning right along to rent this, and I’m NOT going to let you talk me out of it (even if I do respect the hell out of your critiques) – so there! BTW, thanx for not “spoiling” the ending. If it’s as bad as you say, the film makers can jolly well spoil it for themselves! Also, I just saw “Drag Me to Hell” again, and was MUCH more entertained by it the 2nd time!

  4. TC Says:

    Great review, but I’ll probably watch this online somewhere

    I’m one of the few people that cant handle the whole shaky cam/documentary style film in a theater since it gives me a busting headache.

    A question I have as someone who knows the ending before seeing it (a friend just had to fill me in before I could stop them), is why don’t you think the ending worked? People I know who have seen it tended to think the opposite (movie didn’t work, but ending saved it).

  5. megwood Says:

    Wow, that REALLY surprises me, TC (about your friends thinking the ending was the GOOD part). Without giving anything away, I’ll just say I found it beyond unoriginal. Borrrrrring. At least the rest of the film was trying to put a new spin on the old story (by trying to debunk exorcisms instead of treating them like they were legit). The end of the film reverses the very thing that made this movie original and sends it right back into the realm of the tired and cliche. Yawnsville.

  6. Hannah Says:

    OMG this film is SOOOOO bad… Do not watch it… I dont understand the ending… brilliant review summed it up 🙂 xx

  7. TC Says:

    Btw did anyone notice how much this movie resembled the 1970’s documentary “Marjoe”, about phony evangelist Marjoe Gortner?

  8. megwood Says:

    Huh, never heard of that, TC. Will have to see if I can find it on DVD. Was it interesting?

    Hannah, thanks, sweetums!

  9. Liz Says:

    I actually saw “Marjoe!” Evidently, his name is meant to be a combination of “Mary” and “Joseph!” Isn’t that cute – NOT!

  10. TC Says:

    A better movie that hits on all cylinders when it comes to creepiness would be “After.Life” starring Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci.

  11. Zachary Deshotel Says:

    i saw the last exorcism,it was good it had the feeling like paranormal activity ill prolly see devil when it comes out to dvd,i just dont think its worth the money but i think devil would be alright

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