Last Exorcism, The

The Last Exorcism The Last Exorcism The Last Exorcism The Last Exorcism The Last Exorcism

Sharply uneven, Daniel Stamm's "The Last Exorcism" is a creepy, cheaply made horror flick that benefits from a good premise and engaging narrative for two third of the story. It's therefore too bad that the ending is compromised, negating the ambiguity and provocation that prevails in the first reels.

Surprisingly, Lionsgate is releasing their picture at the end of the summer (August 27) without much publicity (TV spots, ads) or fanfare, though I predict that "The Last Exorcism" will be well received by most critics and would score big at the box-office, considering that it was made on a very low-budget.
 
Even so, there is much to recommend about this horror feature, which borrows from the seminal and influential "Blair Witch Project" its faux-documentary style, and announces the arrival of a good actor, Patrick Fabian, bet-known until now for its TV work.
 
Though some of the themes are familiar from the over-worked genre, "The Last Exorcism" doesn't lack in ideas. Among other things, it probes the darker sides of our minds and psyches, and raises intriguing questions about our very faith in religion and mysticism, not to mention our beliefs in movies.
 
The movie is based on the reportedly factual premise that, whether practiced by Catholic priests, evangelical ministers or Episcopal charismatic, the ancient rite of exorcism is very much in existence in the new millennium. In fact, some academics and practitioners have stated in recent years that the practice of exorcism, which is dubious for many people, is actually on the rise.
 
In this tale, co-scripted by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, things are not as simple or as obvious at they appear on the surface. When the saga begins, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) arrives on the rural Louisiana farm of Louis Sweetzer to perform what seems just another routine “exorcism” on a disturbed religious fanatic. 
 
An earnest fundamentalist, Sweetzer has contacted the charismatic preacher as a last resort, based on his conviction that his teenage daughter Nell is possessed by a demon who must be exorcized, or else their terrifying ordeal will end in catastrophic tragedy.
 
It therefore makes sense that Cotton and his crew would plan to shoot a confessionary documentary about his very last exorcism. But then issues of conscience and ethics begin to play a part, a result of years of parting desperate believers with their money.
 
Upon arrival, he also realizes thatthe family farm has already blood drenched, and it gradually becomes clearthat he was not really ready or prepared for the true evil that prevails in the place. 
 
Is it too late to turn his back?
 
As is often the norm about stories of psychiatrists and their disturbed patients, "The Last Exorcism" puts Reverend Marcus’ own beliefs to test, forcing him to revisit and reexamine them in their effort to save Nell—and ultimately themselves.
 
Daniel Stamm, whose previous film, "A Necessary Death," was an award-winning, documentary-styled narrative, grounds the story in many realistic details, which, for a while, manage to compensate for the other narrative problems.