Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian, Big Love) is not your typical reverend. Having no faith, he is basically an atheist whose job requires him to act like a spiritual leader. He treats his job as a service he provides to people who need help. Marcus believes that possessed people are faking it, that they need a big spiritual adviser to help them snap out of it – much like what psychiatrists do for people bogged down with mental baggage.
When Marcus reads about a young boy who died during an out-of-control exorcism, he decides enough is enough. It is time to expose exorcisms for what they are – a scam. His plan is to hire a documentary film crew and bring them along to film his last exorcism, showing “pre-show” set-up where he rigs the room with odd devices that make it appear like a demon is present, then the supposed exorcism and the magically healthy person afterward.
Livestock have been killed each night in the backwoods farm belonging to the Sweetzer family. Every morning, the family wakes up to find their teenage daughter Nell (Ashley Bell, United States of Tara) covered in animal blood. With no recollection of having killed the animals, Nell and her family believe her to be possessed. When Reverend Marcus shows up, everything appears to be like a textbook “possession,” but odd things quickly start to happen that cause him to doubt his beliefs.
The majority of the movie is really well paced and edited, either entertaining you through this prick reverend’s words and deeds or freaking you out with creepy sounds, jumps and actions. Everything that happens in The Last Exorcism is unpredictable and unexpected. You have no idea what is going to happen next. And while this unpredictability mostly works positively for this film’s well-being, in the end it ruins it.
The Last Exorcism is entertaining until the reveal at the end. The ending is completely unfitting to everything you see before it. With three minutes left in the movie, a new outside threat is introduced. After brief unexplained events happens, we get a cop-out Blair Witch ending that raises more questions than a season finale of LOST. All of the good is undone by this laughably bad ending. It truly ruins the whole movie.
If you want to see a horror movie that is so bad it’s good, check out Piranha 3-D. The Last Exorcism is so bad that you will never want to watch it again. At least Piranha’s ending was intentionally written to make you laugh.
Photo credit: Lionsgate