Saturday, April 28, 2012

Horror Mystery: The Devil Made Me Do It - The Last Exorcism (2010)

I thought this would be an interesting Horror Mystery as the inevitable sequel to The Last Exorcism has been announced. Oddly enough, the original's star Ashley Bell will somehow be reprising her role and the sequel will take place three months after the events of the original. Also worth noting, almost all the original creative is missing (most notably producer and Nazi killer Eli Roth) in favour of having the film fully financed by European company Studio Canal. (Source) Well, colour me interested, Batman. The first was a really interesting, well-written, well-acted film... until the last 5 minutes. This is actually one of the few instances where the supernatural aspects killed my love for the movie.

The Last Exorcism follows the handsome, charismatic evangelical minister Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) who regularly performs exorcisms. He knowingly performs fake exorcism that involve tricks to help families who believe they need one. Now, however, he sees the error of his ways as more often than not these people need professional psychiatric help. He sources a documentary crew to capture the behind the scenes fakery and expose the practice to the world.

The "last" exorcism refers to the exorcism he attempts to perform on Nell Sweetzer, a young girl cut off from the world raised in a community where nothing is as it seems. The shooting of the exorcism scenes is intentionally misleading with arguments for and against the supernatural. The film manages to walk a fine line that keeps you guess. Until the end. When the Cloverfield monster shows up. Obvs.

Part way through the film it is revealed that Nell is pregnant. Cotton and the crew assume it is her boyfriend. When they confront the young man, he reveals he and Nell have never had sex because he is gay. They then assume the father of Nell's baby is, well, her father Louis. Louis had a falling out with the church a number of years back and after the death of Nell's mother has become more and more reclusive. Naturally, he seems like the most likely candidate to have fathered this baby. When Cotton and the crew return to confront him they find the Sweetzer home covered in Satanic symbols. As they run through the woods where they hear chanting they find Nell tied down, giving birth to something with spikes as the aforementioned Cloverfield monster makes an appearance out of the fire. Cotton goes towards the chaos holding a crucifix, attempting to fight the monster while the members of the crew are killed off by the mob. The tape ends.

The 80 minutes of build up where the audience along with Cotton were forced to question our notions of science, faith and magic were erased. So what the fuck was the point of that ending?

Fear Not True Believer: One theory is that had the documentary crew believed that Satan was real and had a hand in this, they would have been spared. Because they questioned the Devil, they ultimately questioned God and suffered the consequences. Cotton and the crew believe they are better than these backwood hicks and their pride is their ultimate downfall.

God Is Still Dead: It actually nothing to do with the Devil or God, it was a cult which takes it from supernatural to science fiction. Think Cthulhu rather than Tim Curry in Legend.

"We also left open what's happening with Nell. People found the ending too abrupt, but you can't tie the story up neatly if your photographer is killed. If you and I walked into a devil worshiper mass, we wouldn't know what was going on. We wouldn't understand where to point the camera, and who the big boss is. We would never understand it. That to me is the meaning of the ending." Daniel Stamm, Director (Source)

While I love the proposed explanation that pride was their downfall, I hated the way it was shown. It was cheap and fake. It was like a CGI bukkake which looks as odd as it sounds.


  1. I've got an exceptionally high tolerance for good horror movies with bad endings. I've even been known to talk myself into liking a bad ending (see Haute Tension). The Last Exorcism took a second viewing, but that's where I am with it. The first time around I found it too abrupt, but when I knew it was coming, it played much better.

  2. Haha, I've never been able to get passed that Haute Tension ending. Re-watching The Last Exorcism, I definitely appreciated the message of the ending but I hated that it was so heavily CG'd. For a movie that promoted itself saying Ashley Bell did all her own stunts etc, it felt like a cop out.

  3. Well, now I'm going to have to give this movie a second viewing myself. I went away from it the first time feeling the ending was very forced. I always pick up something new on a 2nd or 3rd go anyway. I hadn't heard about the sequel but it doesn't surprise me.

    1. Even though the last five minutes still irritate me, it's pretty re-watchable. If only for the two leads.