The Last Exorcism (R16)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner3/09/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Brilliantly directed, superbly written and genuinely scary, this is a hugely enjoyable horror flick with a terrific, star-making central performance from Patrick Fabian.

What's it all about?
Directed by Daniel Stamm and produced by Eli Roth, The Last Exorcism is shot documentary-style and stars Patrick Fabian as Reverend Cotton Marcus, an evangelical preacher who's had a recent crisis of faith and has decided to expose the trickery behind faked exorcisms. Inviting a documentary crew (Iris Bahr and Adam Grimes) to accompany him on an exorcism, Cotton opens a letter at random and heads to Louisiana, where he meets bereaved, borderline alcoholic farmer Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum), his less-than-helpful son Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) and his apparently possessed daughter Nell (Ashley Bell).

Needless to say, they get more than they bargained for and Nell's disturbing behaviour gets much, much worse after the faked exorcism. But is Nell really possessed or is something much darker going on?

The Good
Patrick Fabian is terrific as Cotton, delivering a charming, charismatic and thoroughly engaging performance that you instantly root for, despite the fact that he's essentially a fraud. There's also terrific support from Bell, who's simultaneously heartbreakingly sweet and genuinely disturbing in her possessed scenes (the back-bend was apparently her own idea).

The Last Exorcism is different to the likes of “found footage” documentary-style thrillers like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield or Paranormal Activity, because it's actually scored and edited. This works surprisingly well – the editing allows for some brilliantly funny moments during the faked exorcism (such as a cut to Cotton explaining how he's loaded an iPod with 15 different demon sounds) and Nathan Barr's superb score is unobtrusive yet highly atmospheric.

The Great
Stamm orchestrates some genuinely scary scenes but keeps the film relatively gore-free, though - spoiler alert - cat-lovers should probably look away as soon as they see a cat. As an aside, it's also worth noting that a) the image from the poster doesn't actually appear in the film, b) the finale won't necessarily work for everyone and c) the film more than stands up to and even benefits from a second viewing.

Worth seeing?
The Last Exorcism is a superbly directed, brilliantly written and genuinely scary horror film that marks both director Daniel Stamm and lead actors Fabian and Bell out as talents to watch. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/01/2020 17:18

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