Possession movies really are my Achilles’ heel when it comes to the horror genre. I can take pretty much anything and my favourite horror films tend to lean towards the more extreme end of the market (Hostel, A Serbian Film, The Human Centipede, for example) but all you have to do is add a kid suddenly talking in Latin and I’m likely to spend the next hour walking around putting on every light I can.
The Exorcist is, in my opinion, the scariest movie ever made. Just the idea of it scares me, even though I have seen it maybe 10-20 times. I always look away when I’m watching it aqt home and the subliminal demon pops up and my heart is actually beating faster just thinking about it.
Thus, just seeing the poster of The Last Exorcism made me feel a little jumpy, but I knew I’d see it eventually as if you attach the name Eli Roth to something then I’m in.
The movie itself turned out to be excellent, with its fair share of scares, but the way it is put together gives it a different edge to others in the genre, it uses the ‘found footage’ idea made famous by Blair Witch and a million movies that followed in the year following its release. It’s been a while since this has been used, Paranormal Activity aside and this is a great example as it makes you care more about the characters, all of them, not just the main actor.
The story revolves around a preacher who has lost his faith. He is not going to this exorcism to regain what he has lost, he’s going there to expose the lies and hypocrisy of the church. When he performs the exorcism, it cuts between the terrifying event itself and earlier interview footage in which he shows that it is all a fake and that he uses wire to make the bed rock, his iPod to play demon noises and smoke in his hollow crucifix which pours out to show the demon attacking him.
Later as he attempts to bring science into the equation, which the child’s father dismisses at every turn, he seeks help from others which may or may not be the best idea in the deep south…
Ashley Bell’s performance is brilliant, you totally believe that she is a naïve home schooled girl, surrounded by religion and farming and little else – her joy when she is given a pair of Doc Marten’s truly lights up the screen, making it even worse when Abalam the demon arrives and starts fucking shit up.
Overall, The Last Exorcism is a great entry in the genre which is both entertaining and highly disturbing. I should add that the disc also includes a documentary about real exorcisms. I got as far as the opening warning where it says the feature contains noises thought to be real demons seeking contact and that was that – never hit the OFF button so fast.