Monday, 6 September 2010
The Last Exorcism ****
This was a difficult review to write for two reasons. One I didn't really get what I was going into the cinema expecting, that being a really scary horror. The second reason is that I couldn't (when I came out of the cinema) make up my mind as to whether this was a good film or not because of the unsettling, unexpected tale told. Rather than giving just another repeated story about a girl who is exorcised, this discusses all matters of topics varying from incest to questioning your faith. After giving it real thought, I came to the conclusion that yes it was a good film, but the way it's marketed made it seem less satisfying.
You see the girl bending backwards with blood covered clothing in the posters, you hear the screams and intense music in the trailers and think to yourself "another gory film to absorb myself into" but actually it's not just a gory film. The film follows Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a preacher who questions his own faith wanting to prove that exorcisms aren't real and it's all in the mind. But as you would expect, when he gets to the house in the rural town where it's ridden with Christianity, he soon finds out that this idea is very real. Taking a topic that's been told so many times can be hard to reinvent but really, this film has.
It uses the new fad of hand-held camera to tell the story as Cotton is filming a documentary to show people their beliefs are all in their head. So receiving the film from this perspective adds to the very drawn out beginning of setting up the story, and to the actual representation of the horrific events that occur from the possessed girl Nell (Ashley Bell). The reason it doesn't satisfy you with the horror you expect to see is because the events that make you want to leave the cinema from terror happen very infrequently. So rather than building and building, getting worse each time, they seem to appear out of nowhere causing you to immediately become anxious without the build up. It's a very effective way to play on your mind. Plus, this film has one of those endings where anything could have happened, so you're in no state to want to leave the cinema by the time the credits role.
To have made this film this way, inspired by Blair Witch and The Exorcist means you gain a new insight to how this storyline could be made. But as the trailers only show you when she's possessed, you expect it to see a constant stream of terror, when actually it's more of a shocking documentary.
The directions (done by Daniel Stamm) means you take in everything around you with great detail. This ranges from the very realistic setting of the village, the actors playing the town's people who all are very convincing, and the way the camera is reacted to makes you feel as if you're a spectator helpless on what to do, much like the crew filming. You relate to their fear making it become not a horror but more a thriller. You're not watching aimless pain or spiritual occurrences, they have context making it much more satisfying.
As I said before, the acting is very good and Bell plays were role beautifully switching from innocent to evil in seconds. She's truly terrifying but so vulnerable all at the same time. Adding this to the home-video effect means you feel like you're watching something very real. It's absolutely mystifying for any horror or film fans who's seen this topic done a million times.
So, when you go to watch this film expect it to see more of a story telling tale about a girl who's claimed to have been possessed, rather than a girl who's going round terrorising the neighbourhood. You'll come out feeling more happy with the ending but will still be shocked at the realism this film produces.