‘The Last Exorcism’ is a documentary style film that follows preacher Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a man whose faith in God is waning, a man who basically just preaches the word of God as a job to pay the bills and feed his family. In one neat scene he demonstrates to the documentary film crew following him that he can get his parishioners to say anything in a prayer and does so by throwing in a cooking recipe in between the hallelujahs. He also used to perform fake exorcisms and, when he hears that a child has been killed in a botched exorcism by some priests, he decides that he will expose their fraudulent nature and perhaps help those troubled families involved. So, with the film crew in tow, he sets off to Louisiana to help a pious farmer desperate to exorcise his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell). She sleepwalks, she has conversations in different voices with herself and she disembowels the farm animals.
Everything we see in the film is done as if it’s a real documentary, so the story is told via a single camera POV and, despite my initial reservations, it worked really well. At its core there is a great performance from Ashley Bell who is totally convincing as either a seriously troubled teenager with an abusive father making the whole thing up, or someone really possessed. I liked that it wasn’t particularly gory, but it was creepy, and that it more or less kept the documentary style consistent all the way through – so you never see the camera man or sound man, but you do hear them as they interact with the subjects of their documentary. Just as I thought the whole ending had totally copped out it still sprang a couple of surprises. And it made me jump.
Well put together, well acted and well told.