The Last Exorcism Should Be

The Last ExorcismThe problem with making a movie with the word “exorcism” in the title, is that you have a pretty big bed pan to fill. Every movie about demon possession and the exorcising thereof that came out after 1973’s The Exorcist – universally regarded as the scariest horror film of all time (yep – loaded my britches after seeing it, too) – has pretty much sucked the big demon weenie. So does The Last Exorcism, the latest over-hyped devil possession movie, apply suction on said hellish appendage? More yes than no, as it turns out.

A documentary film crew follows Reverend Marcus Cotton, a 40-something slightly smarmy church guy, on his last fake exorcism ritual. He’s had a crisis of faith is setting out to prove the church is a scam. But that doesn’t stop him for charging cash for his services. (Apparently, God giving him and his family daily bread isn’t enough to cover the rent.)

The Last ExorcismCotton goes way out to a reclusive Louisiana farm house where a 16-year-old girl is being felt up from the inside by some demon calling itself by some heavy metal band name. The mom passed away a while back, dad is a hard core Christian, and Jake, the teen son, is skeptical that religion and prayer can help his sister. Seems Nell, the home-schooled daughter, has been slicing open farm animals just for kicks, and not to prep for snacking purposes. And she doesn’t remember doing any of it, but must have done it all the same because her stylish frock is covered in blood all the time.

Cotton performs the “exorcism” with all the bells and whistles, and Nell seems OK. That is, until she shows up later at Cotton’s motel room miles away in the middle of the night. (Nothing kinky, just a bad case of possessed sleep-walking.)

Exorcise Your Inner Demon This sets up a pot boiling set of sequences that has Nell acting all demon-y and diagonally slashing open her brother’s face. Then her bones crack and re-shape and now she can touch the back of her heels – with the back of her head. Another exorcism (no charge this time) reveals that the girl is preggo. That explains the mood swings. But not the animal sacrifices.

Thinking they solved the case, the film crew (a guy and a chick) and Cotton take off down the road. But his instincts lead him to uncover a missing piece of the puzzle and he races back to the farm. And this is where all the careful plot structuring and tension goes straight into the dumper.

In a scene lifted straight out of an X-Files episode, Cotton and the two film-y people arrive to find the house completely dark, but they can hear Nell screaming like Hell out in the woods. It’s there they find a Satanic ritual in progress, which is so limp as to be half-cooked farm animal. (While I won’t spoil this scenario, you’ve seen it before.) Throwing everything out the door, the ending was a complete rip-off. Won’t spoil that, either, but if you were one of the ones suckered by The Blair Witch Project (I still can’t believe I fell for the stupid hype), the ending is EXACTLY the same.

The ExorcistThe ad materials show Nell doing demon things that aren’t even in the movie (except for the bending over backward thing). She throws up, but only about a half cup full – a complete disgrace to the dignity of demon possession. Nell doesn’t speak in tongues or turn her face into tenderized flank steak. There’s blood, but not enough to make your mouth water.

The Last Exorcism is OK, but it comes up way short on marketable evil, to say nothing of the hurried and cliched ending. Why can’t demon possession mean something anymore?

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