Welcome to Mind Control Month | Possession Week – Day 3. I’ve got another mockumentary-style film for you today. This one is called The Last Exorcism. Whenever you have a film with this type of title, you’ve gotta start asking yourselves is this really the “last” exorcism? Especially when there’s a sequel to this movie. So, you can bet I’ll be getting into some title-specific questions by the end of this review. First, though, let’s talk about the plot of The Last Exorcism.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the evangelical Reverend Cotton Marcus was raised by his father to be a preacher. He agrees that the filmmaker Iris Reisen and the cameraman Daniel Moskowitz make a documentary about his life. Cotton tells that when his wife Shanna Marcus had troubles in the delivery of their son Justin, he prioritized the doctor help to God and since then he questions his faith. Further, he tells that exorcisms are frauds but the results are good for the believers because they believe it is true. When Cotton is summoned by the farmer Louis Sweetzer to perform an exorcism in his daughter Nell, Cotton sees the chance to prove to the documentary crew what he has just told. They head to Ivanwood and they have a hostile reception from Louis’s son Caleb. Cotton performs the exorcism in Nell, exposing his tricks to the camera, but sooner they learn that the dysfunctional Sweetzer family has serious problems. – IMDb
Okay, so this is the “last exorcism” because the fraudulent Reverend Cotton decides to make this documentary to prove that exorcisms are false – and once that’s out there, this would hence become the last exorcism. Got it. It should be noted that there are definitely three acts in this film. Most films have them, but the transitions are a bit acute as far as transitions usually occur in films. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. As long as everything else is in order, it should be okay.
That, of course, is just my first impressions. Let’s go ahead and break down The Last Exorcism to interpret the stars.
PEOPLE SCORE – 6/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 1|Importance – 1|Chemistry – 1
Alright, let’s start with the people category. The only thing that I think they did an okay job with was the characters. I think people will identify with Nell and Reverend Cotton for a variety of reasons, but it’s more than that. Smaller characters, like her father and brother also have unique and strange qualities surrounding them that makes them just as memorable, so that was cool. Everything else flies by without any real acknowledgment. The acting was okay, ending up absurd by the end. The casting was okay, but anyone could’ve played these characters. The importance isn’t really strong, though I believe it tries to be. Finally, the chemistry is off as well. So, all-in-all, I think this was more of a mediocre category.
WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2
Next up, we’re taking a look at the writing category, which really didn’t do too bad. Apart from it having typical and forgettable dialogue and being a little unoriginal when it comes to possession, everything else was done well. This film, like I said before, has three clear acts in the film. I may not like the third act all that well, but I can’t help but understand that it is, indeed, balanced. The story is about a fraudulent reverent trying to disprove demonic possession. I would say that’s a story I’d like to hear – which of course, is interesting.
BTS SCORE – 7/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1
Next up, we’re looking at the behind-the-scenes category, which also has a decent score. It’s nothing perfect, but it is rather decent. Visually speaking, it could’ve easily been better. This is one of those films that has a different visual tone on the poster than the actual film, but that’s okay. Directing-wise, there wasn’t anything that I saw that I deemed challenging or difficult in any way. Editing, though, they did a good job starting in believable documentary fashion before things got too intense to continue editing asides – so it simply turns into more of a found footage thing. I’d consider this film as-advertised, but none of the music really stood out to me.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 7/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 0
Alright, so now, we’re moving onto the narrative arc category, which did okay in parts, and not so much in others. Let’s start at the beginning. Our introduction was satisfactory. We were greeted with Reverend Cotton and why he has had a crisis in faith – ultimately leading to the reason he’s making this documentary to show the “last” exorcism. The inciting incident is a little confusing though. I’m not sure if it’s when he decides to do head to the family’s home or after the fake exorcism when the girl shows up again. I would wager on the latter half, but because it’s not super clear, I have to give half points. Lots of good exorcizing obstacles and the climax was a pretty decent culmination of everything combined. There wasn’t any falling action though. It ends where it ends, and that’s that.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 2/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 0
Alright, was it an entertaining film by any means? Well, I feel like I’ve still seen better. The whole trying to disprove it thing was pretty unique and interesting, but after a little while, that wasn’t even really the point anymore. So, I think I’d consider it a basic rewatchable film during maybe Halloween time, because it is sometimes fun to watch, but that’s really about it. I don’t have any impulse to buy it, own it, talk about it with anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Lastly, it never sucked me in, unfortunately.
SPECIALTY TOTAL – 35/50
Mind Control – 5|Possession – 10|Horror – 0|The Last? – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
We now move onto the specialty questions that I asked before seeing the moving. This, of course, is mind control month, so how was the actual mind control? Well, it’s hard to say. Most of the movie was about trying to disqualify the demonic possession angle and consider it all faked, so most of the time, you’re not feeling the mind control aspect, though it is partially there. As a possession film in general, I think the film does a good job intensifying the progression from weak to strong, so full points there. As a horror film, I have to at least say it wasn’t scaring me. Here’s a title-specific question – is it really the last? Well, we know there is a sequel…but that’s beside the point. This movie is all about trying to be the last exorcism in a way that makes sense, so I have to give full points there. Finally, was it halfway decent? Yeeahh, I guess I’ll say they did what they wanted to do, so, sure.