Monday, 6 September 2010

The Last Exorcism

Eli Roth takes a break from body-horror to straight horror in this documentary-style film about an exorcism.

I should really know better than to get too excited about films like this, I really am setting myself up for a fall and I know it. Let's be honest, the trailer made it look pretty freaky; even this poster looks fantastic, so how can it go wrong? Well, in quite a few ways.

The story is from the viewpoint of a documentary crew filming a preacher, Cotton, who wants to show everyone that exorcisms are fake. His reason for doing so is that he reads articles about parents killing their possessed kids and he wants to lift the lid on it once and for all. Cotton is a confident, suave, persuasive character who is, really, just a conman. He gets vast amounts of money from the poorest of people to perform these fake exorcisms and he believes that if it makes them feel better by him doing it, then so be it. A man's got to feed his family right? So the crew follow him out in the country to a small farm where livestock is getting slaughtered by their daughter, Nell. Then it all starts going a bit funny.

The slow start is something common for horror films and is a working formula that I enjoy. However, the pay-off's and especially the end are pretty terrible. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen all the scary bits of the film and if you can potentially see a 90 minute film in 3 minutes, and it be better, then there's a problem. It's a shame really because I really enjoyed the acting, the preacher Cotton is a great character and it's such a shame that everything around him was a bit shit. The girl playing Nell is very sweet and innocent but when she turns evil, it's not really that threatening, her father and brother also play the closed-off Southern folk to an impressive standard but the film just lacks the scare factor. The actual plot up to the finale is quite good as you're still not sure whether she is possessed or not but you know there's definitely something weird going on.

I don't really want to ruin this for anyone but I can't really recommend this film. It's a shame because it had all the basic elements needed to do a good horror story and, perhaps with a lesser budget might have even worked better, but with perhaps the most disappointing and sheer ridiculous ending seen on screen, it became a farce. It just tried too hard to put what it thought was scary up, rather than what is actually scary and mixed together the unique parts of other films. The look of Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity/REC, the demonic aspect of Rosemary's Baby, the content of The Exorcist, the body-horror of ... The Exorcist and all that. The film is trying, arguably, to be about the preacher finding his faith again but really it's a lame duck. It could have done so much but ended up being nothing more than a mashup of other films and being a huge let down.

The concept was good, some images were good, but it's most definitely not scary and you'll sleep soundly the night you watch it - don't worry. Points for trying though.

Rating: 4/10

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