This is the most recent entry in the fake documentary sweepstakes. It’s a genre that encompasses things like, the mostly excellent The Last Broadcast, the nausea inducing The Blair Witch Project, the mostly good Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity among others. It’s also one of the better films in the genre
The plot off the film follows a minister from the American south who has a big following and who has made a reputation as an exorcist. His feelings is that the idea of possession is nothing more than a form of mental illness and that by putting on a good show he is helping the so called possessed. Deciding to hang it up and move on he picks a random letter from the pile of requests for help and says that he and the film crew will follow the path where ever it takes them. Unfortunately what the minister and the film crew find is nothing that could ever have imagined.
Low key and matter of fact the film is a slowly building film that is low on gore and high on creepy tension. We don’t see everything that happens we often only see the aftermath, with the result that our minds fill in the blanks. It’s a ballsy thing to do in these days of hyped up gore and violence but it works in spades. My skin was crawling as I watched the minister and the film crew try to deal with things that seem to have a rational explanation but really don’t. I liked that the terror was not from jumps and starts but from sounds and images of things that just don’t look right, some of which are fleeting and make you wonder if you saw or heard what you think you did.
In all honesty I was hesitant to see the film. As good as the film looks the fact that one of the writers was Huck Botko, a man who came to my attention through a series of short films called Cooking with Huck Botko, put me off to seeing the film. These little poisoned confections are about Botko making vile things to eat and serving them to unsuspecting friends and family. Its all a set up of course, but its so well done that you really can’t be sure-until you look at the IMDB listing and find actors listed for the short films. I figure Last Exorcism was going to be as tasteless as those films, but surprisingly it’s not. It is however like his nasty little shorts in that very quickly you forget that the film is make believe and you begin to believe that the story is real.
Bravo Mr Botko for messing with my expectations and doing something wonderful.
I know the film has taken some brick bats for not being a typical horror film with monsters and demons and gore, but to me that’s what is so great about this film, its closer to reality than the vast majority of horror films, which are so out there that you wonder why anyone gets scared (A prime example of this unreality is the recent film Devil, about five people in an elevator being hunted by the devil. This rates higher at IMDB than Exorcism? Please. Its over the top). This one stays close to reality, and some of the silliness that a situation like this might create, and is better for it.
I think this is worth a look when it hits DVD.