The Last Exorcism is reminiscent of what Harry Houndini did after his mother died. He sought to expose the frauds who claimed that they could bring her back so he could talk to her one more time. His desire to start debunking the paranormal was a turning point in his career, and it gets reflected in this film.
With Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), the roles are almost similar. As an evangelist, he has enough tricks up his own sleeve to make congregation believe anything, and he uses them on the road too. For where he lives, out in New Orleans, it’s the Devil’s playground, and the movie begins justifyingly so, giving viewers enough information to play along. They know right away who Marcus is, and there’s plenty of character development to make him the sudden hero.
He’s also about to make a documentary about himself and the last exorcism he’ll ever perform. When asked to help a farmer’s daughter out in the bayous of Louisiana, there’s more than just that ol’ black magic going on. With a cameraman who’s hardly ever seen and a sound engineer, Iris (Iris Bahr) by Marcus’ side, what they find is downright creepy than horrible when they arrive.
Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum) is the farmer who believes his daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell) is afflicted with a demon. He sends a letter to the Reverend to plea with him to help exorcise the creature away. And with Marcus’ arrival, what’s found is not immediate. Eventually, things build in a slow crescendo. The movie pretty much gives the shock value away in foreshadowing what’s to come, and the terror is not disturbing enough when revealed.
But at least this movie doesn’t try to outdo the classics of the horror movie genre.
Instead, it mixes in the best of what three decades worth of terror has to offer. In style, it can be compared to Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and The Exorcist. To mention the fourth film to which Last Exorcist may have drawn inspiration from would simply be giving the whole story away.
There’s recognizable elements all the way through and the movie thankfully doesn’t bill itself as wanting to outdo these older films. One good thing about this movie is that it has a larger cast and it integrates very well with modern times to make it believable. There’s no hocus pocus needed to create true terror.
All it needs is a curious cat. And we all know where that leads.