REVIEW: The Last Exorcism (2010): *1/2 out of 4 stars.
To me, this film was ruined by my expectations from the previews and the viral advertising campaigns. It is like that with a lot of movies these days, but this one was especially disappointing to me. Add to that the fact that the reviews for this film were pretty good, especially for a horror movie, and I walked away confused.
The Last Exorcism follows the story of Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a show-boat minister in Baton Rouge, LA, and his quest to prove that exorcisms are fake after he reads a story about a Catholic priest killing a child during an exorcism. He takes a film crew with him to investigate a potential exorcism situation with the Sweetzer family, who live on a small farm out in the country whose livestock is being mutilated. His plan is to pretend to exorcise Nell (Ashley Bell) and prove that the demon is just a figment of her imagination or damaged psyche. But, his faith is challenged when she is still troubled and continues to act increasingly violent without memory of each occurrence. When Nell becomes mysteriously pregnant and then threatens the lives of Cotton and his film crew directly, Cotton knows that he is faced with true evil and cannot just leave without putting the situation to rest.
The film had a lot of potential, especially since it was filmed in a documentary style like “The Blair Witch Project”, something that hadn’t been done with an exorcism movie yet. But, it failed to really capitalize on its cinematic premise, outside of a great scene in the barn (which was mostly shown in the previews). Maybe I am just gullible, but from the previews I gathered that a good portion of the film would take place in the barn, while in reality that was a very small chunk of the movie.
While the film does a great job building the atmosphere of a secluded, old farmhouse, it spent way too much time building the atmosphere than doing anything that was actually creepy. There were a few startling moments, but for the most part the film relied heavily upon atmosphere with little pay off.
Then, there is the ending, which I will not describe in detail for those who still have a desire to see it, which was the most disappointing part of the film. It seemed like the movie really was going somewhere exciting and was building to a thrilling climax. Instead, there is a mysterious ending, which could have worked had it had more to build on from earlier. The ending leaves a lot open to interpretation and I like when there are mysterious endings to films, but this one was left too open and hardly explained anything that was seen, leaving me feeling robbed and unsatisfied.
Bottomline, there is a lot of suspense building to absolutely nothing. Maybe there was something I missed or maybe I need to wait to see a director’s cut that might explain more, but this film to me was a huge disappointment.