22 January 2015

THE LAST EXORCISM/2010

I can't say nobody bent over backwards to make this film.

I can’t believe I actually read some positive reviews about this utterly abysmal mess that Eli Roth had something to do with in terms of production.  Are people just trying to like horror movies anymore out of desperation? Trying to find something nice to say about a modern horror film? God knows I am trying. I will admit that I fell for the eye catching cover art on the DVD package –which I bought as a pirated version here in China for about $1 so thank Lucifer I am not out any real cash on this one- and the Eli Roth endorsement. Now that I think about it what the hell has this guy ever done since Cabin Fever or Hostel that is really special? Has he even done anything? Now he is a ‘producer’! I do not even know what a producer does but in old films it always went A) Producer B) Writer C) Director, at the end of the opening credits. Now it goes A) ten or twelve producers or associate producers B) Ten or twelve executive producers C) Writer D) Director. So it seems a producer does less and less these days but it must be nice to have one's name among the dozen or so people may recognize it and then plaster it all over the DVD jacket to dupe people into thinking it may have been actually been creatively controlled in some way by some one or two hit wonder like Eli Roth. For all the influence Roth actually seems to have  had on the film you may have well plastered another producer’s name, like Thomas A. Bliss, on the cover. What a scam. There was a time when a producer’s name gave you some idea about what a film was going to be like but those days have long vanished. It was directed by some German guy  but who even cares unless he's the one to contact to get your money back from if you unwittingly paid to see this tripe.

And while I am at it I would like to get something off my chest. I have said this before here at Necrotic Cinema [This review was originally posted at my now defunct Necrotic Cinema blog] and that is that so called paranormal horror movies are the worst for me. I guess if you allow for the possibility that there is something like ESP or another world where the dead hang out and torment the living by turning toasters on and off then these kinds of movies will probably scare you. I know here in Asia all of that is scary stuff. Especially ghost films where there is a young girl who just peers at you through her unkempt hair. Well I don’t think its scary in the least though it makes for some great DVD cover art. I would lump in exorcism films along with paranormal horror, as I would haunted house films and stuff like The Sixth Sense. I like tangible monsters and slashers. And I am not really that into The Exorcist as I used to be. The last time I watched it, with the crawling backwards down the stairs bit and all, I just did not like the film like the first time I saw it though I think William Friedkin is a good director. But no exorcism film has ever topped that one. Remember all those god-awful Italian exorcism films from the 70’s? Even the great Mario Bava did one and it sucked. The horror genre itself needs to be exorcised of these lame films but like Beelzebub himself the damned things keep crawling back out of the sulpheric depths of hell to torment movie-goers over and over. Not with great cinematic horror but with crappy effects, bad acting and sub-standard script writing. 

Hey! Look at cute lil' ol' me! I'm a producer now! No need to write or direct anymore!
The film is shot in that annoying-ass shaky handheld camera style but to be honest it is not as nauseating as most in that department. It is a ‘mockumentary’ though at no time do you ever feel like you’re watching anything other than 2nd rate actors reading memorized lines. The movie is a ‘found-footage’ story –where the unedited documentary film footage shot by a crew that is now most likely all dead is later found and put together by someone like  Eli Roth I guess- that follows the Reverend of little faith Cotton Marcus (played well enough by Patrick Fabian) and his film crew of assistant Iris and cameraman Daniel to make a documentary of Marcus’ last exorcism. 

He has no qualms about joking about the shallowness of his followers and has had little remorse about taking money from believers who seek him out to perform exorcisms. He soon gets cynical and his conscience eats at him after various news stories report on the negative consequences of some exorcisms. He will take his crew with him to perform an exorcism at the Sweetzer farm in the backwoods of Louisiana. He will document all his slight of hand antics and trickeries he uses to dupe the believers into thinking they are witnessing a real exorcism and then, through the power of their own superstitions, believe that they have been released from the control some sort of demonic power. Nell Sweetzer (Ashely Bell) proves to have more issues than Marcus is prepared for and about half way into the film things seem to heading a good direction. I really thought things were going to get wild and crazy and that there was going to be some real demonic shenanigans going on at least, but it never happens. The plot gets all off course with the crew’s theories and conflicts about Nell being the victim of child abuse or incest, which is fine, but it just goes on and on. We are introduced to other characters like the pastor of the local church and his assistant who looks like that fat semi-dwarf woman from Poltergeist – a paranormal style movie that I liked actually- and rather than being written out of the script or brought back later in a believable role they come back at the end in what has to be one of the worst ‘tack-on’ endings I have seen in a long time. 

Ain't this a spooky image? Nothing like it appears in the entire movie.
Can't even trust the devil anymore!
Hey, I know the feeling maybe. Sometimes (like right now) I am writing a post on some movie and I start off with lots of steam but soon I am just wanting to get it over with. I leave out trains of thought I organized in the beginning simply because, well, I don’t give a crap anymore. And that is how the ending of this movie feels. Either the filmmakers got tired of the project and wanted to get it all over with and get it shown with that cool banned in Britain poster with Eli Roth’s name on it or they simply lacked the talent to pull it all together at the end. Maybe there was another version of the script somewhere but one of the half dozen producers wanted a ‘shocking ending’ that would appeal at a gut level to what he must have thought would be an audience of chimpanzees. The movie, which was already teetering on the precipice, falls to total shit when a crappy final few minutes that seems like a mixture of Rosemary’s Baby, Race with the Devil and the Blair Witch Project hits you in your slack-jawed face. The only film that the ending bears no resemblance to is The Exorcist. The film actually ends having nothing to do with demonic possession at all. The pastor and his gnomish assistant lead a secret devil cult and Nell’s brother Caleb, who we think supports Nell, is involved while her father Louis, portrayed as a possible violent abuser, winds up being a victim himself. Oh so many twists and turns and shocks and surprises. It is all so clever and catches us all of guard. But it is a tacky and poorly executed –as in goofy- conclusion to a film that could have gone somewhere but loses its way about half way through and, unlike the prodigal son, is never found again. In Jesus’ name I cast this movie out of theaters and DVD stores! BE GONE!

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