At the center of the film is preacher Cotton Marcus, a scam artist/preacher/exorcist who, after a crisis of faith, makes it his mission to debunk the myth of exorcism as merely a psychological phenomenon and/or scam. A fast-talking, charismatic guy, he has the best two-minute summation of the existence of demons ever. Following the overdone hand-held pseudo documentary, Blair Witch-camera style, the "found" footage pieces together all the zooms and cuts, telling a compelling story.
With a well-chosen cast, decent dialogue and ambivalent characters, The Last Exorcism offers a welcome twist to the demonic-possession movie. All the acting was superb and believable while the tension and dread were palpable. It even has a creepy, stringed soundtrack and for the longest time it's quite riveting. A well-paced approach to exposing the exorcism myth and medical/physiological ramifications, the methodical tempo generates enough doubt as to what is really happening.
Then, with the finish line in sight, there's a complete meltdown by the writers in the last 10 minutes. The filmmakers botch the ending so badly it makes me think that no one is capable of writing a decent movie in this genre anymore. This is sad. Up until then, I was thoroughly enjoying where this movie's uninterrupted excellence was taking me.
But the inept and totally lazy Devil's Rain/Brotherhood of Satan/Race with the Devil ending is so out of left field, ridiculously unnecessary, cheap and idiotic that it defies any further discussion. This was a brilliant little masterpiece that opted for such a cop-out ending that it ruined everything it had so gallantly strived for.
The Last Exorcism
Starring Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones. Directed by: Daniel Stamm