The Last Exorcism is where "The Office" meets Rosemary’s Baby, a film that brings a fresh approach to the shaky camera movie of the past decade but then settles into standard horror fare.
A fourth generation Louisiana pastor named Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) has hit a crisis of faith. He has been in the exorcism business since he was 10 years old but now feels that it does more harm than good. He invites a two person documentary crew (Iris Bahr and unseen camera man) to witness his last exorcism and to show it for what the theatrical fraud that it really is.
The crew and Pastor Marcus travel into the heart of the bayou to the Sweatzer farmer, the kind of place that locals warn them to head back from, where they witness what might not be soul possession, but something far more sinister and humanly evil.
Producer Eli Roth and director newcomer Daniel Stamm are out to make their own homage to Cannibal Holocaust, the pinnacle docu-horror drama from the early 80s. They have a lot of fun with the set up of this American Gothic community and the role that the perspective camera plays with audience.
Pastor Marcus, played be unknown TV actor Fabian, gets to chew the theatrical church scenery of the southern Pentecostal. He’s the kind of snake skin preacher that can create a Sunday serum about God and turn it into praises about banana bread. Fabian. like Marcus. has a great command of the camera as he rattles on about the nature of business and exorcisms.
The first hour is a pure biting set up about the fraud Christianity has put on Southern society. Pastor Marcus hilariously walks us through an exorcism, showing how beds shake, demonic sounds erupt via iPods, and crosses ooze smoke thanks to inner liquid capsules. All of which is set-up to the actual horror these characters find themselves battling at the climax of the film.
As the film progresses, originality is cast out and standard horror clichés begin to emerge. Pastor Marcus and the crew are given a chance to leav the town but decide, like most horror character’s, to turn back around and face the demons head on. This involves the go-to human scarifies, ring of fire, and occult battles. This isn’t surprising considering it’s an Eli Roth production, yet in watching how the film sets itself up, we know these filmmakers are capable of creating a more surprising and non-conventional ending.
With this exception, The Last Exorcism does offer a surprisingly daring and original take on this very tired part of the horror genre.