MOVIE REVIEW – THE LAST EXORCISM
August 10, 2011
The Last Exorcism
Directed by Daniel Stamm
Running Time: 87 mins
Rating System: 0 – 5 Bubbly Head Deaths with Zero being the lowest and five being the highest.
Now, I know that this flick came out last year, but I’m gonna review it now anyway, in case anybody missed this little gem of a movie. The Last Exorcism (hereafter referred to as TLE) is about a preacher in Baton Rouge named Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) that is having a documentary made about him. As we see him preaching, he explains the showmanship in his work, and in a great gag involving a recipe, we quickly become aware that Cotton is moved by money more than God. Soon the documentary turns to demons and exorcisms. “I don’t believe in Demons,” he announces, but he does believe in good healthcare. As far as he’s concerned, if people want to pay him to conduct an exorcism, then why not. He’s totally willing to put on a show, and he has, many times. But since he has read about people, including young children, who have died in exorcisms, he has decided not to do them anymore. Iris (Iris Bahr), the producer of the film, convinces him to do one more for the movie and Cotton decides to let the film crew tag along on the last exorcism.
TLE then moves to the Sweetzer farm in rural LA. There, Louis Swetzer (Louis Herthum) believes that his teenage daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) is possessed. In another great sequence, we see Cotton prepare for the exorcism – complete with hidden iPod and speakers producing spooky noises and a smoke-generating crucifix. Later, he puts on a spectacular show, ending in the grand tradition of Zelda Rubinstein pronouncing, “this girl is clean.” Thinking that the job is done, Cotton and the film crew return to their hotel and begin planning the trip home.
That plan quickly unravels when they find Nell in her pajamas waiting for them at the hotel. How she has managed to get there is a mystery. She has no car and had no idea which hotel the group was staying in. The mystery of the Sweetzer farm quickly deepens as Cotton and the crew return Nell, and try to uncover what is truly going on.
The filmmakers do a great job in not tipping their hand too early, instead letting the audience discover what is going on along with the characters. Cotton and friends all have their “I’m in a horror movie” moment at the right time. It’s believable, and feels right, which makes it even more scary! The look of the film was effective and creepy. The documentary style of long takes gives the film a realistic look – in that what we are watching are real events and not scripted scenes. Only the occasional scoring of horror music in several scenes betray this effect. I guess the filmmakers decided that the film wasn’t strong enough on its own and needed them. Too bad, cause I think it works pretty damn good without them. One final note on the sound design: Fantastic! The designers did a great job without throwing it in the audience’s face.
GAME INSPIRATIONS FROM THE MOVIE
This is a film the H.P.Lovecraft himself would heartily endorse. It’s chock full of all the “There’s something dark and evil lurking everywhere” ideas that he constantly wrote about. And the setup is perfect for “Call of Cthulu” games, in any time period. In fact it would be fun to try this story set in the 20’s. The film also has just the right amount of research moments. Not sot many that they give the farm away, (no pun intended) but enough to provide the characters with enough information to try to solve the mystery. A good group of role-players would have a field day with these characters. From the cynical preacher to the true-believer father and the girl who may or may not be possessed, there are lots of nuggets to play with. If your group isn’t quite into full blown role play, then the story itself should be quite enough to ensure a fun evening or two of gaming.
I’m not gonna say much, cause I really don’t want to blow anything. However I must point out an important lesson from TLE: If a possibly possessed girl draws pictures of you being horribly, painfully killed, DON’T JUST LAUGH IT OFF, RUN!
‘Course, what do I know?
You can check out this review as well as all the others at Bloodwork blog on toxicbag.com.