It’s been a while since we had a documentary-style live action thriller, but The Last Exorcism still takes so many pointers from The Blair Witch Project. This film got lots of publicity due to Ashley Bell’s performance and her ability to twist her neck and body to mimic movements of someone possessed. The suspense thriller also made one of 2010's largest profits by costing a measly $2 million and earning an impressive $40+ million. With hardly any recognizable faces it’s somewhat easy to get sucked into the false authenticity.  The plot, while disingenuous, is both entertaining and the kind of guilty pleasure you might find on television. 

 Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) of Baton Rouge was basically raised to be a minister; he grew up in the church and just naturally began preaching when he was of age. After years of sermons, and following the complicated birth of his son, he abandoned his belief in God but admits that he continues preaching because he was good at it. Cotton also performs exorcisms and has decided to do a final one on film with documentarians to show how fake the practice is and all the tricks he uses to fulfill believers' notion about demons. However, the case he has chosen in the deep south of Louisiana will challenge his recently converted beliefs. 

 It’s difficult not to compare this type of film to the more elaborate, true story film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which featured a more dramatic setting and top notch performances from Oscar nominated actors. This film works in its own way if you are looking for something apart from your typical horror film. At no point in this movie can you anticipate what will happen next and that’s par for the course. Some viewers might be under the impression that this is going to be backed with disturbing images throughout and loads of violence, but director Daniel Stamm keeps the focus on the documentary style and we see no obvious special effects or gimmicks. 

 Bell’s performance as the possessed girl is as entertaining as it is unsettling; the positions she gets herself into while portraying this isolated young girl make for a unique character. In the hands of a more accomplished director I think the idea behind this film could have been something much more. Still, The Last Exorcism manages to conjure up as many laughs as it does pondering questions. With the success of these small films like Paranormal Activity scoring such enormous revenue, the biggest fear is that many more of these films will follow. 

 Final Thought – Entertaining because we are laughing at the movie that should be trying to scare us. 

Grade C

By: Dustin Chase W.

Editor: Michael B. Woody