Without any thought, any true horror fan will recognize The Exorcist as among the best in the genre. Perhaps it is for this reason that films concerning demonic possession always seem to peak my interest. However, the experience is typically ruined with a film that is plagued with weak dialogue, cheap effects and a plot that would have been better had it been written by a five-year old. Keeping in the tradition of my disappointments, The Last Exorcism is no different.
Taking a page out of modern cinematic trends, Exorcism might not be remake or in 3D but it does follow the "mockumentary" thread that was popularized with Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. This style of filmmaking was fun about ten years ago, but now it is close to becoming an annoyance.
The story is centered on Reverend Cotton Marcus, who is lost in his faith after conning countless people into paying him to perform fake exorcisms. Now he is ready to redeem himself and serve God by hiring a documentary crew to show that exorcisms are nothing more than cheap parlor tricks. This act of kindheartedness brings Cotton and company to Louis Sweetzer's farm, where daughter, Nell, is said to have been killing livestock. The good reverend decides to perform his fake exorcism and after a few classic bed shakes and scary sounds, all seems to be good. Of course, the movie doesn't stop there because Nell begins to show real signs of demonic possession.
The main complaint with this movie is that it drags on mercilessly with very few rewards. Many of the scenes just involve the characters talking, when the audience is desperately waiting for something exciting to happen. The poster shows some scary looking chick bent backwards and that's what you want to see but the movie won't let you, not until you have heard more talking and lame jokes. There are moments, albeit few, that really provoke excitement and you say, "hey, that was cool", but these scenes are brief and are quickly dissolved into more dialogue amongst the characters.
Another fatal flaw in this film is the plot. One would suspect that a possession flick is pretty straight forward, but this one cannot seem to make up its mind on what it wants to do. This is all revolved around whether the possession is real or not. Sometimes it seems that it is real and others, it seems like she is faking it. The movie seems to use this tactic as a series of "twists" that are so frustrating that they completely take you out of the experience. All of this leads up to a ending that is unoriginal and really has nothing to do with the rest of the film. It is just sprung out of nowhere and leaves you wondering what really happened.
As previously said, there are moments in the film that are genuinely creepy. The body contortion scenes are disturbing, even more so considering that they are not CGI but rather performed by the actress. Another fun scene is when demonic Nell picks up the camera and the audience is treated to a first person account of her mayhem.
All-in-all, Exorcism isn't a terrible film but it's not that great either. Some of it is actually pretty decent, if you can stand to sit through an otherwise incredibly boring movie. If you're in the mood for a scary movie with a plot and nonstop tension, then just rent The Exorcist.