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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Patrick Fabian
Ashley Bell
Louis Herthum
Iris Bahr.
Directors
Daniel Stamm.
Screenwriters
Huck Botko
Andrew Gurland.
Running Time
86 minutes

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The Last Exorcism
Eli Roth presents flowers, bunnies. Oh, hang on...


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Plot
Cotton Marcus (Fabian), a minister who has lost his faith, invites documentary filmmakers to chronicle an exorcism. On a remote farm, Nell Sweetzer (Bell), a teenager in a religious household, is suspected of involvement in cattle mutilations, prompting her family to think she’s possessed. An exorcism ensues, but another is needed.


Review
The Last Exorcism
This mock-documentary produced by Eli Roth engages instantly thanks to an interestingly conceived lead character and a charismatic performance. Inspired by Marjoe, a 1972 documentary about fundamentalist hucksterism (a forerunner of the current trend for non-fiction editorialtainment), Patrick Fabian plays Cotton Marcus as a super-smart, glib talker who puts on a good show and has only just started to believe that performing exorcisms might be harmful to his troubled subjects. Blair Witchiness creeps in at the Sweetzer farm, where a hostile brother (Caleb Jones) backs off only when he sees the exorcist for a fake — a creepy idea which resonates later — and a Christian father (Louis Herthum) simmers with the potential to harm his daughter for her own good.

The plot works through several interpretations, wavering between supernatural and psychological solutions. As Marcus admits, exorcism is associated with Roman Catholic priests (“because they’ve got the movie”) but the casting-out of demons is a showstopper on the Protestant side, too. The Last Exorcism is in a debate with the recent The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, which distorted a true-life story into a propagandist tract for conservative religion — here, the only reason Cotton isn’t initially a threat to Nell (or, if there is one, the demon inside her) is that he doesn’t mean what he says. Though we don’t get a definitive answer until late in the day, the pastor’s scepticism is challenged by hard-to-argue-with supernatural happenings — and terror comes as the situation spirals out of the control of the seemingly confident, competent, above-it-all preacher man.

Though we’ve been this video diary horror route often recently, The Last Exorcism has extraordinarily subtle lead performances and runs to proper, 1970s TV-movie scares. Director Daniel Stamm fakes the shaky look of authentic footage, and there’s an understated crossing-of-the-line as the documentarians get caught up in the story and try to influence its outcome — which, as a gruesome prophetic drawing hints, is likely to be horrid. The ending goes somewhere else, and will divide audiences, though it’s a throwback to the likes of Race With The Devil as we pull back from the haunted farm to discover a larger evil in the community.


Verdict
The method is well-worn and the subject-matter familiar, but this is a smart, scary little picture.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Last Exorcism
Empire Star Rating

Not the first and certainly not the last

Faux documentary charting how a disillusioned spiritualist gets his faith rebooted when he encounters a farmgirl whose possession seems to be the real deal. While Fabian and Bell work hard in their roles – she’s especially convincing at the demonic screams – we’ve seen this countless times before and it really adds nothing new to the genre. Especially with that ludicrous ending. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 14:35, 11 July 2014 | Report This Post


Tedious

I'll be honest, it had moments where I was genuinely frightened but ultimately it's shallow, popcorn fare for the masses. Just made me want to watch The Exorcist so I could see how an intelligent horror should be done. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ladybooger at 21:57, 09 January 2012 | Report This Post


Sooo boring

Not scary at all, story was slow and boring. I felt no attachment to any of the characters, and wasn't bothered about what happened to them. It had potential though- there were a couple of moments where it started to set up a creepy moment, but then never followed through and nothing happened. The 4 stars means it's equivalent the The Road- now that is an outsranding film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by flyaninnocentlife at 20:59, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Smart, Simple, Dripping With Dread

I thought this was the most terrifying thing I'd seen since The Orphanage; I actually had to take a break during the scene where they're looking for her in the house and go wander around the kitchen for five minutes  Extraordinarily tense.  The ending is a bit wacky, which is such a shame, because as most have pointed out, it takes a star from an otherwise excellent film... in fact, I would have considered it for a five-starrer had it not been for the end. ... More

Posted by Drone at 13:55, 05 May 2011 | Report This Post


Smart, Simple, Dripping With Dread

The shaky-cam genre no longer wins any plus points for originality. In fact, it was dead before Blair Witch came out. But this definitely pumps some fresh life into the genre in the form of a nasty little exorcism picture that has a plot you could jot down on the back of a beer mat, but also more intelligence than a dozen Saws. Making the most of creepy set-pieces and visual effects, The Last Exorcism is a blistering and unpredictable headtrip that never quite reaches the bounds of horror that s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 04:20, 12 April 2011 | Report This Post


Creepy And Disturbing But A Disappointing Ending.

After seeing a few handheld films of late ie Paranormal Activty and Rec 2, I was prepared to check out The Last Exorcism. While there are a few jumpy out of your seat moments, the whole storyline is creepy and disturbing. It keeps you tenseful, waiting for the next shocking outcome or what will happen next. But like many, I was pretty disappointed with the ending. Completly left to your imangation, I felt a little cheated to be involved in a film so much only to be given a grim and head scracthi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:25, 08 January 2011 | Report This Post


Creepy And Disturbing But A Disappointing Ending.

After seeing a few handheld films of late ie Paranormal Activty and Rec 2, I was prepared to check out The Last Exorcism. While there are a few jumpy out of your seat moments, the whole storyline is creepy and disturbing. It keeps you tenseful, waiting for the next shocking outcome or what will happen next. But like many, I was pretty disappointed with the ending. Completly left to your imangation, I felt a little cheated to be involved in a film so much only to be given a grim and head scracthi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:25, 08 January 2011 | Report This Post


stop moaning!

I watched this after hearing audiences mixed opions and critics rave about it, I agree with the critics on this one! A unique horror with a style of its own. I wish people would stop moaning about it and stop comparing it to the likes of Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch, it's a totally different movie ( apart from the hand held camera obviously ). The acting was superb, especially from Patric Fabian, it had great moments of building tension and the ending was a good little twist. Much more tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 23:53, 02 January 2011 | Report This Post


stop moaning!

I watched this after hearing audiences mixed opions and critics rave about it, I agree with the critics on this one! A unique horror with a style of its own. I wish people would stop moaning about it and stop comparing it to the likes of Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch, it's a totally different movie ( apart from the hand held camera obviously ). The acting was superb, especially from Patric Fabian, it had great moments of building tension and the ending was a good little twist. Much more tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 23:53, 02 January 2011 | Report This Post


Tragic. ... More

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Posted by reminn at 22:59, 02 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

McGeesJabbewock, I like your reviews mate, keep 'em coming! ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:09, 29 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

There is more to a horror story then just a series of grotesque and supernatural happenings. The best horror stories are those that make the audience feel uncomfortable, those that make them believe there is something waiting out there to ‘get’ them. That is why the terrifying tales told around a campfire usually have such appeal; they are told as if they were true, and before their listeners sleep in a place where they are more exposed. Several fictional horror tales pretend to be true, b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by McGeesJabberwock at 17:04, 26 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

I liked this up until the final act, then it was a massive throwaway exercise in cramming as many horror movie nods into the ending as possible. Great build up, worth seeing, but forget the ending. 3/5 ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 23:13, 22 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Those 4 stars must have been for the trailer

saw this last night. I do like Found Footage films and this one did keep me intruiged until the ending, which could have been so better. The main Cotton character i liked. And i liked the religous doubt angle to his character, But this was no Last Broadcast or Blair Witch, but i would have welcomed an explaination as to how the footage was found, just a small gripe. Its not a 4/5 film in my book but definately interesting ... More

Posted by montroy at 18:43, 22 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Awful

Possibly the most disappointed I've felt coming out of a cinema this year. For eighty minutes or so, the last exorcism builds an intoxicating sense of dread and despite the well worn mockumentary style, it does it in a way that feels fresh – whilst playing with the idea of something more dangerous and disturbing than demonic possession. All this good work however is spectacularly ruined by a climax that not only comes across as a cheap mishmash of Rosemary's Baby, the Wicker Man &... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 00:03, 17 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

Really creepy.  But the ending just crushed the film.  How does a film come out with an ending that bad.  The film makers most of known that it stunk. ... More

Posted by Death_Row_Marv at 13:01, 13 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Those 4 stars must have been for the trailer

I liked it for the most part but agree that the ending could've been better. I didn't have an issue with it plot-wise just felt it was a tad rushed. I was gearing up for a nail-biting climax a'la en suddenly it was over. Still, compared to most fuck-awful kiddie-friendly horrors released these days (or indeed any two-bit cartoon torture porn released in the wake of Mr Roth's own under-cooked ouvre) it was a superior chiller that effortlessly understood the concept of being, if not all-out terri... More

Posted by horribleives at 12:03, 09 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Those 4 stars must have been for the trailer

Yep I agree with above post. The ending didn't ruin it but since they made such a big deal out of the paintings the girl had drawn earlier I kept waiting for the fates depicted to catch up to the characters so it was all a bit of a moot point. Hate it when they do that in the narrative. Still was good, I found Emily Rose more disturbing and Paranormal Activity more scary!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 18:22, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Those 4 stars must have been for the trailer

Possible mild spoiler: I thought this was pretty good and it kept my interest throughout, but the ludicrous last few minutes kind of spoiled it a bit for me. 3 stars, though would have been 4 with a half decent ending! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 18:14, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Those 4 stars must have been for the trailer

Thought the first half was decent enough but as for the moronic ending i'm sure i've seen  something similar to that before in a film called Race With The Devil starring Warren Oates.  2/5 ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 13:26, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING For much of it’s length The Last Exorcism is very impressive and a really effective twist on The Exorcist-type movies. It’s done as a documentary, replete with things like shaky cam and the camera on the floor, and although this approach may be running it’s course in horror cinema it works really well here, making proceedings very convincing indeed. Much like Paranormal Activity, you get to believe what you’re watching, and, like that film, after a very gradual start ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 12:09, 06 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE:

The film is excellent until the end when you realise they didn't setup the "shock" or "twist ending at all and it feels tacked on at the last minute. shame. ... More

Posted by genejoke at 16:00, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 4? Are you INSANE ?????

You are right about the camera on the floor routine lol. SPOILER ALERT I thought it was mildly scary as it turns out it is a wider evil at work something to do with Devil worship and the local remote small town hicks are involved and they are doing some kind of sacrifice. What is interesting is the excorcist is a sceptic and a fraud. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 16:30, 04 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

Is it better than The Excorcism Of Emily Rose, and how different are the two moives.  I will look into the documentry.   For me the best film so far on this subject german film Requiem.  Outstanding!  ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 15:47, 01 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Last Exorcism

It's ace. Gloriously acted and suitably tense. Yes the ending may be up for debate but personally I loved the old school Hammer feel of it. Oh and Cinetalk you're spot on about docs having a score and lest we forget how the amazing District 9 starts as a doc and then suddenly morphs into a mainstream flick. It's definitely worth a look. ... More

Posted by Big_Pants at 23:30, 31 August 2010 | Report This Post


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