Distractions: Last Exorcism coughs up scares, laughs

Last Exorcism

It’s hard to get me at the edge of my seat, screaming and completely in the moment in a movie theater, but Lionsgate film The Last Exorcism, directed by Daniel Stamm, accomplishes just that.

The film is a mix of Blair Witch Project, good scenes in the Scary Movie series and every Exorcism movie, filling it with varied emotions, ranging from giggly to “woah.”
The Exorcism movie genre began with William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, a novel based on events that supposedly happened on the Saint Louis University Campus. This book led to movies, television series and novels like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, True Blood and Requiem.
The story begins with Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a Baton Rouge preacher who performs sham exorcisms, believing he is curing the patient from a mental disease, not the devil.

Marcus is the main source of comedy as a fearless hero who makes light of every situation. Marcus agrees to let a director/producer (Iris Bahr) and cameraman (Adam Grimes) film his last exorcism.

The crew goes into very rural Louisiana and meet a religious, conservative father (Louis Herthum), a skeptical son (Caleb Landry Jones), and daughter Nell, a sweet girl undergoing major stress about the “demon defiling her.” The father is sure Nell is possessed, and Marcus encourages this with Latin demon books, set up props and fake moving scenery. After a first “failed” exorcism, Marcus continues as the plot twists and turns, becoming creepier as it goes along.

The movie’s sluggish build-up makes you almost forget this is a scary movie, until the end, which goes in an opposite direction and completely removes the “realism” most of the movie tries to portray. The ambiguous ending leaves you saying “huh?”

It’s refreshing to see a scary movie that has a comedic side but still delivers the chills and thrills. This pseudo-mocumentary enthralls and renewed my faith in decent horror films.

Cristina Vasquez-Muñiz

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