Horror review: The Last Exorcism



Thirty-seven years after The Exorcist, the makers of The Last Exorcism decided to meld William Friedkin’s classic shocker with the low-budget 1999 blockbuster The Blair Witch Project. The result is a fairly absorbing pseudo-documentary demonic-possession flick with all the bodily contortions and jittery camerawork you’d expect.

Patrick Fabian stars as Cotton Marcus, a preacher who, after years of performing sham exorcisms for profit, has a crisis of conscience. Deciding to throw in the holy water–soaked towel, he enlists a two-person film crew to document his final exorcism, and when a letter arrives from a fundamentalist Louisiana farmer who suspects his teenage daughter is possessed, the stage is set for the reverend to reveal his unholy deception.

Things get interesting when Marcus and his crew are waylaid near the farm by a pickup-driving hillbilly who politely suggests that they turn right around and go back where they came from, then pelts their van with rocks. Turns out this redheaded hick is the protective older brother of the girl whose soul they’ve come to save, and he doesn’t cotton to meddling strangers.

Undaunted by the ginger kid’s threats, Marcus pulls off his demon-busting charade with the help of prerecorded sound effects and a trick crucifix. It looks like the fake exorcism has been a success and the girl’s imaginary demons have been cast out, but then an unexpected medical diagnosis forces the trio of interlopers to become deeply concerned for her welfare.

The suspense builds to an admirable level around this point, but your final judgment of The Last Exorcism will hinge directly on just how far you believe a camera operator would go to capture footage. As you may recall, The Blair Witch Project has already covered those bases with its very premise.

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