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Friday, October 5, 2012

31 Days of Horror: The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism is a documentary, well, actually it's more like a found footage movie, only, who could have possibly found this footage and, once found, edited it together into a feature length film?  And why would they?  The footage shows the murder of, at least, two people, and the implied murder of many, many more.  So, it's just supposed to be a regular old exorcism movie then?  Anybody?  Hello?

Think about it too much, at least on a style level, as I did in the above skit (That's right - copy, paste into a Word document, and print out the above paragraph and you've got the raw materials for a hilarious "who's on first"-style skit, suitable for school or church!) and The Last Exorcism falls apart like a crucifix made of pudding.  But lose yourself in the story and fine acting performances, and you've got a decent little horror flick here.

What makes The Last Exorcism so great is the lead performance of Patrick Fabian as Reverend Cotton Marcus, a Louisiana preacher who's lost his faith, faith it seems he never really had much of in the first place.  He runs a fairly profitable side business as a Protestant exorcist, though he doesn't believe in demon possession, let alone demons themselves, but after reading an article about the death of a child during an exorcism in another state, Cotton decides to stop and use his reputation as an upstanding Man of God to help children.  He decides to perform one last exorcism (get it!!!) and invites a documentary crew along to film it.

Cotton chooses an envelope at random from his "please get the demons outta me" letter pile and winds up at the remote and eerie Sweetzer Farm, where all manner of demony shit is going down.  Louis Sweetzer believes that his daughter, Nell, is possessed by a demon that has been forcing her to kill his livestock.  Cotton plays into the man's fears, conducting tests to determine which demon is living inside Nell (turns out it's a fun-loving fellow named Abalam, you know, but not really) and performing the exorcism, exposing the "tricks of the trade" to the documentary crew as he goes along.  Following the exorcism, Cotton collects his demon-busting fee and bids farewell to both the Sweetzers and his life as a fraud.

Then, later that evening, a dazed and confused Nell shows up unannounced in Cotton's hotel room.  Wait, whuuuuuuuuuuut?

This is a horror movie, so obviously there is something more going on here, but I bet it's not what you're expecting.  Look, personally, I think you should give this film a chance.  I liked it a lot.  The whole documentary thing stops working once Nell shows up at the hotel, possibly still possessed by something, but if you can ignore that and stick with The Last Exorcism, I think it's worth it.  If, however, you totally don't give a shit, here's what happens.  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Short version: Nell is not possessed by a demon.  

Phew!  I thought demons were real for a second.  That'd be scary, wouldn't it?  I'm glad they're not.

Nell is, however, pregnant.  Cotton first believes that she is pregnant with her father's offspring, as Louis is all shades of creepy and overbearing, but Cotton is wrong.  Nell confesses that she is pregnant with a diner employee's baby, but when the camera crew confronts this alleged baby daddy, he informs them that he met Nell exactly once and that he's totally into dudes.  So, who got Nell pregnant if it wasn't her dad or a gay guy?

It was the Devil.  Oh, Devil, why are you always knocking up human ladies?  Ain't you never heard of pulling out?

Anyway, yeah, Nell is pregnant with a devil baby and the local church congregation, which is a front for a cult of bonfire-loving Satanists, are using her to bring, I don't know, the Anti-Christ or something into the world, as they are wont to do.

My Favorite Part: Cotton realizes Nell is not truly possessed by a demon when she offers to give him a "blowing job."  "What's a 'blowing job,' Nell?" he asks the writhing teenage girl, who gives him no answer.  "A demon would know that it's called a blow job," Cotton counters.  "I don't think you're possessed at all."

Blowing job.   Heh.

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