“The Last Exorcism”
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Previously available at Found Footage Flicks, which was discontinued as of 09/01/2014.
Cotton Marcus, a man who became a Preacher as a child, has suffered a crisis of faith and become discouraged. After years of preaching with his father and performing exorcisms for the church, Cotton’s personal doubts, combined with recent news of children dying while allegedly being exorcised, have convinced him to expose them for the frauds his experience has shown them to be. He, with a documentary film crew, travel to the Switzer farm in Ivanwood, LA to perform an exorcism hoping to help a troubled family and show the tricks of the trade. While there, Cotton and the film crew discover there is far more serious problems happening with this dysfunctional family.
This is a genuinely creepy found footage film. Ashley Bell, as the arguably possessed Nell Switzer, gave a chilling performance with a convincing combination of innocence and malice. She did all the bends and contortions herself without special effects. Patrick Fabian, as the faith-challenged Cotton Marcus, offers the audience a believable wishy-washy, hypocritical, in-over-his-head, but honestly concerned character. Cotton is well explored in the story, given a multifaceted background and evolves. Nell and her Fundamentalist family’s background is touched and speculated on, but it’s the mystery of what’s happening in the “now” which is slowly revealed, tries to engage the audience and succeeds to a point. The rest of the cast seemed like props rather than complete characters, just there to point out what the audience was already thinking or suggest misleading plot twists, without adding any real substance.
On that note, the dialogue isn’t particularly bad. There is a great bit right at the beginning where Cotton says “I bet I can preach a sermon about…” which I thought was excellent execution of dialogue that worked. It successfully conveyed the contempt the character has for not only his “calling” but the people who believe in him.
The story is slow to start, mostly focusing on developing empathy for Cotton and the documentary crew, very much an expose of exorcism fraud. I did feel that though the film seems to drag through the first half, suspense builds almost without the audience noticing. Perhaps too subtly, but still there. When the movie finally picks up the filmmakers overuse of jump scares too quickly burns off the suspense they had taken so much time and effort to build.
Although I did enjoy this movie, felt it was chilling, and was pleasantly surprised with the twist at the end (which left questions unanswered, indeed created more, but I didn’t find that too detracting ), I didn’t connect with most of the characters. I gave this 3 mixed drinks, overall it managed to evoke chills and thrills, however cheap.