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The Last Exorcism
Believe In Him
Do you believe in god? If so, then you have to believe in the devil too. After all, their both part of the same mythology. Whether you want to admit that or not. It's well documented in several religious text that where there is a god trying to guide humanity into heaven; there is also a devil trying to lure and capture our souls into hell. "The Last Exorcism" tells the story of a Reverend Preacher, Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who has been trained into the art of being a preacher and seasoned exorcist since he was a ten years old. Successfully, completing every exorcism, he's ever done. However, you want to know the ironic part of all this? Surprise, surprise, surprise..he's an atheist.
During the beginning, Reverend Cotton openly admits that his belief in god is a lie. Sure, he's paid to do Sunday morning sermons along with quite a few exorcisms, and people praise him for doing the Lord's work. Yet for Cotton, it's just another day at the office, as he often just puts on a show for his followers. Ranging from using cheap magic tricks to entice his church followers, to even using cheap gimmicks like a radio and smoke machines to fake exorcisms. As he even puts it, people that allegedly believe they're possessed actually aren't. No, in his expert opinion, it's often in the person's mind so to humor the alleged possessed souls, he puts on a show for them. Making them think he's performing exorcisms when in reality, all he did was put on a helluva a show. Does he feel bad about it? Yes and no. Yes, because he is lying to people about his beliefs and to the people that believe in him, but he's does it to make an income to support his family. Plus, his son was born prematurely and was born partially deaf, so he does this to pay for his son's medical bills. Is it an easy job for him? No, but it pays the bills.
However, that's when the unthinkable happens. As it turns out, a young boy was suffocated to death when a preacher performed an exorcism on him, according to a local newspaper that Cotton read. This information along with the news that the Vatican was opening up an academy dedicated to the teachings of exorcisms, got Cotton thinking. Knowing how much of a scam exorcisms truly are, and fearful that it would eventually lead to more children being killed over a myth that isn't true. Cotton then makes it a point to have a camera crew document what is to be his last exorcism. Where he would perform this exorcism, and show the world just how much of a scam it truly is. Showing that people who claim they're possessed aren't, but it's their mind playing tricks on them. Shot in the same fashion as such films like "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity", as the cinematography is shot like a home video to enhance the realism of the events that are transpiring.
What starts off as a typical routine exorcism as Cotton puts on another show for a small town family, soon turns into a nightmare as he experiences events that have never happened before. Which begs the eternal question...what if he's wrong this time? Perhaps, this isn't a simple case of a girl that merely thinks she's possessed, but she actually is. Or maybe Cotton is right and she's just crazy, as there are no such thing as demons, right? Or is there? Now, I won't say whether or not Cotton is right. Besides, that would spoil the entire premise of the film, as it's obviously designed to make the audience question their perception of reality, by setting the story in a realistic environment while shooting in a documentary type format. While implementing subtle hints of religious mythology just enough to make it believable even to the most harsh skeptic out there.
Does it work? Well...let's just say I thought the premise had a lot of promise, and I loved how the main protagonist was an atheist Preacher, as it creates a strong sense of irony. Unfortunately, it just fails a bit on execution around the end, as they make it too freaking obvious what's going to happen, by the time you get midway through the film.
Don't get me wrong, I understand what the director, Daniel Stamm, and his writers were trying to do, as all exorcism movies are all generically the freaking same. Let's face it, it doesn't matter how good a recently released exorcism movie is, there's no way it's not going to come off as some cheap knock off of "The Exorcist." That's just a fact. Therefore, if you can't make an exorcism film that's truly original, then the best you can do is try to do it differently. Which is exactly what Daniel Stamm tries to do here with "The Last Exorcism."
Using the exact same concept as the classic indie film, "The Blair Witch Project", as it uses the cheap home video style cinematography to create a sense of realism to whole thing. Making the audience question whether or not the demonic signs are even real; something "The Blair Witch Project" played on beautifully as even the ending to that film is highly debatable. As they never really show you exactly what happened to the four lost campers out in the woods. Thus, leaving it up the audiences' own interpretation of the events that transpired to invoke true horror. Sadly, I can't say that about "The Last Exorcism", as the ending shows you exactly what happens on whether the girl was ever possessed at all. Something that immediately takes away from the mystery they were trying to establish to begin with. Heck, they don't even at least try to make the ending original either. As it ends almost exactly the same way as "The Blair Witch Project", where the person holding the camera runs through the freaking woods to get away from a mysterious threat. Gee, how original. By the way, I'm being sarcastic for those that couldn't tell. However, that's not to say this is a bad film by any means.
No, it's just vastly over hyped. As I said before, the premise and the characters are highly unusual and interesting, which makes the film decent enough to watch. Unfortunately, it just doesn't live up to what it potentially could have been if there had been a bit more effort put into it.
Overall, if your into exorcism films, then this one should prove to be highly interesting to check out, as it does present a unique twist to the concept of exorcism movies. However, I just wouldn't expect it to be great one, as this film could have been a lot better if Daniel Stamm would've put more effort into this. Sadly, he doesn't. Thus, I have no choice but to give this movie a two out of four. It's not a terrible film, but it's not great either....