There were two movies that I was really excited to see this summer. One was Piranha 3-D, and the other was obviously The Last Exorcism. Well, I luckily got to see an advanced screening of The Last Exorcism, and now I want to give you a spoiler free review of it. I think you will find that this movie was a little different from other exorcism movies. The question is: did that make it any better than the others?
The Last Exorcism was actually a documentary that followed Rev. Cotton Marcus. We learned a little bit about who he was, and his religious beliefs. As part of the documentary, Cotton decided to let a small film crew follow him to a home, and perform an exorcism. He picked a random letter from someone requesting his help, and off they went. They arrived at the Sweetzer farm, where Cotton tried to save a young girl named Nell.
First, I wasn’t really expecting the whole movie to be shot from the cameraman’s point of view. You could kind of tell from the previews that it may be like that, but I wasn’t sure about it. For those of you who didn’t like movies such as, The Blair Witch Project, and Quarantine because of all the camera movement, then consider yourself warned. However, there wasn’t as much movement with the camera as there was with those two movies. You should be all right until much later in the movie, unless you really can’t handle the movement.
Exorcism movies usually have a priest that is very serious, almost dramatic, and usually struggle to overcome their own personal demons while fighting the actual demon. Cotton did have his struggles, but I wouldn’t describe him as dramatic. As I mentioned, we learned a lot about Cotton, particularly before they got to the farm. The more we learned about him, the more I liked him. He had a good personality, and was very funny. Now that I think about it, what really made his character complete was that he gave you enough reasons to either hate, or like him. You hated him because he was a reverend, but had a lack of faith. That lack of faith led to him doing things that a reverend shouldn’t be doing. Basically, Cotton had arrived at a point in his life where preaching was just a job. It had gotten so easy for him that it really didn’t matter if he believed in God or not. You liked him not only because he was funny, but also you felt sorry for him because his son was born premature, and with a disability. That caused a struggle for him emotionally and financially, and gave you a reason to support him.
Speaking of reasons to hate him, Cotton did something I didn’t expect to see going into the movie, but after learning about him, was completely within his character. Cotton believed that most people that thought they were possessed were faking it. It was all in their mind, and all you had to do was remove that thought from their mind instead of removing a nonexistent demon. He really didn’t believe that Nell was possessed, and went to the Sweetzer farm to prove that he could fool Nell and her father out of believing that Nell was possessed. In order to do that, he showed the documentary crew some of the tricks he had come up with to con the family. After pulling his stunt, we see him take some money from the father. I have seen priest not believe they could successfully perform an exorcism, but I don’t remember seeing one blatantly fake one and take money in exchange.
One of my expectations for this movie was that it would be scary. That was evident from the commercials, movie posters, and the fact that this was a movie about an exorcism. Well, I am sorry to say that this movie was actually funnier than it was scary. I guess I should have been tipped off by the PG-13 rating. Of course, most of the comical stuff came from Cotton’s actions, and some of the things he said. You could actually make a case that the movie took too long before even getting to any of the exorcism stuff. However, even though the movie lacked the scariness that other exorcism movies had, there was one scene that actually got me to jump (shame). I guess they succeeded in getting my guard down.
The biggest difference between this movie and other exorcism movies, besides that it wasn’t that scary, was the very end of the movie. I can already hear the complaints. Actually, I could tell by the audience’s reaction in the theater, people didn’t like the ending. The problem was that we have already seen that ending happen in other movies, so it wasn’t as shocking as they wanted it to be. Really, you almost expected the movie to end like that. What I did like were some of the events that happened right before the very end of the movie because there was a bit of a twist. Just as I thought I had figured things out, something totally different happened. That will always score some points in my book. The movie left me confused, and I am still debating about what actually happened. I think I may have to see it again to look for some clues. After everyone sees the movie, I would be very interested in hearing what you thought actually happened in the movie.
I hope I haven’t discouraged you from seeing this movie. It was a little different from other exorcism movies and certainly wasn’t better than a lot of other exorcism movies, but that is why I think it is still worth seeing. I would just have to say that if you expect this to be as scary as say, The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or any exorcism movie that actually scared you, than you can forget about it. What I hope is that you will end up liking the story of Rev. Cotton Marcus. He was a simple, and funny character that entertained you as his story became complete. Other than Cotton, probably the best thing about this movie was the unexpected twist at the end: it will make you wonder what just happened before coming to an end that you may dislike. I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood.