Tossing together mockumentary, evangelical fundamentalism and Rosemary’s Baby, and spicing it up with a dash of devil worship, The Last Exorcism may also be the first of its kind in weirdly overhauling the horror genre as well. And managing a rather toned down PG-13 seal of approval too.
Directed with playful menacing gusto by Daniel Stamm while indulging in casual subversion as to truth in advertising in title selection, The Last Exorcism effectively shakes up audience horror expectations. Though dropping the shaky cam conceit would have eased up the trauma on viewer stomachs while still messing with their minds.
Patrick Fabian is Cotton Marcus, a Southern preacher since childhood who passionately followed his father into the calling and makes a comfortable living prying his frantic followers loose from the paws of Satan. But Marcus has been overwhelmed by doubts lately, connected to the honesty of his house calls plying a lucrative trade as prominent local demon buster.
So the despondent exorcist gathers a film crew and sets off on his next and hopefully final mission, to prove once and for all through visual evidence, that demonic infestation is simply in the deluded mind of the possessed. The current victim in question is Nell (Ashley Bell), the vivacious sheltered teenage daughter of devout Louisiana farmer, Louise Sweetzer (Louis Herthum).
Determined to probe ensuing erratic behavior and suspicious occult events as a forensic criminal investigation of sorts instead, Marcus finds himself faced with deplorable leads. Including suspect homicidal inclinations, incest and assorted stereotypical bible belt insanity.
Move over Satan, this film appears to be its own worst enemy, as humor and more sociopathic urges frequently threaten to upstage the horror. Not the least of which occurs when the afflicted innocent young girl kindly offers to give the stunned minister a ‘blowing job.’
On a side note, considering the rather indecisive resolution of the various creepy matters at hand, future filmmakers with exorcism mayhem on their minds, should have no problem continuing that macabre practice on screen. And likewise taking this movie’s title with a grain of salt, as Lucifer seems to once again get the last word.
2 1/2 [out of 4] stars