November 28, 2010

The Last Exorcism (2010)

(aka Cotton)
Release Date: On Blu-ray & DVD now.
Country: USA, France.
Written by: Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland.
Directed by: Daniel Stamm.
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum and Caleb Landry Jones.

There are few sub-genre's in Horror Filmdom that are tougher to master than Possession/Exorcism. The Exorcist aside, try to think of  some other great movies that involved someone being possessed and their subsequent exorcism, that didn't suck.

See what I mean? The truly good ones are truly few and far between.

Maybe The Exorcist set the bar too high? Maybe there's only so much you can do with that type of story. I don't know. Either way, The Last Exorcism manages to be one of the better efforts in that particular sub-genre, and it's really nice to see one that works rather well for a change.

*We do wish they had kept the original title of the film, Cotton, though. That just sounds really cool, doesn't it?

Don't fight it, baby.
Cotton Marcus is a preacher that doesn't believe in God, gives sermons about banana bread, and has one of the worst first names ever. He also lies and swindles people out of their money, in the name of the Holy Father, which is kinda underhanded since he doesn't actually believe that he exists. He is very charismatic though, so I guess I trust him.

Come on, he looks trustworthy!
After receiving a plea for exorcism help, Cotton and his film crew head to Asscrack, Arkansas or some place like that, to "exorcise" a "possessed" teen girl. He's obviously playing with fire here, because you don't mess around with the simple folk of the south, and here's why; they're God fearin', gun totin', and they don't like you. They're all very well mannered and polite, but if you weren't born in the holler, you taint welcome. Being that Cotton is definitely the kind of guy that overstays his welcome, you can imagine that things don't go so well...

"Go home, Yankee!"
After he performs an exorcism, which he fakes like most women fake the "big o", things get odd and creepy. He begins to wonder if Nell (the girl) is really possessed or if her dad is just crazy and wants to hurt her, or maybe even make sweet love to her. He also wonders if her brother is going to kill him or not. Also, he also wonders if human bodies were meant to contort in such as fashion as Nell wills hers to do also. I like the word also... it adds emphasis.

"The orgy hasn't even started yet, how can you be finished?!?"
Is Nell really possessed, or just bat-shit crazy? Will Cotton use the power of Jeebus to save her sweet little soul? Does she have daddy's bun in the oven? Does Cotton know how to take a hint and git while the gittin's good? I won't spoil what happens here, but suffice it to say that this picture just about says it all:
Yeah, so everyone is pretty much fucked.
As far as the Found Footage genre goes, this one was pretty good. It's was hard at first for us to say if we liked it or not, because we thought we did, but we're pretty sure we didn't. Confused? Us too.

Cotton being a charlatan was a great plot move, and Patrick Fabian played his swindling role well; we liked him for the fact that he had his own set of beliefs, and mostly did what he did for the betterment of the people in his flock. Still, you can't help but totally like him, snake oil salesman that he is, which might be why he was so interesting.

The movie got better as it went along, though it never really kicked into gear as far as scares go. Some of it was creepy, and there were moments of trepidation and held breath on our parts, but it almost seemed like it came too late and didn't really mess with out minds as we'd hoped it would. Had Nell spouted off in some crazy Demonic voice or something, it would have been better. We do understand why she didn't though.

It takes a brave kid to be openly gay in the South. Kudos to him.
The barn scene from Emily Rose, the ending camera work from Blair Witch, the main characters name stolen from the Scream series... this movie is one big thief! Maybe not, but the borrowed elements were pretty glaring.

The last 8 minutes or so of this movie have caused quite the backlash amongst moviegoers. I won't spoil it, because people who spoil twists are a-holes, but I do have to say that it was a decent idea, but came and went like a flash. The whole movie takes its sweet time about doing much of anything, builds a little, pretty much resolves itself, and then BAM! CRAZY TWIST ENDING! It did make me look back and appreciate some of the story elements differently, but they really needed to let it breathe a bit more. It all felt a bit too rushed.

There's some blood here and there throughout the movie, but most of it comes in the form of Sanskrit ramblings on walls and cave drawings, also on walls. Cotton does get a pretty nasty cut though, and one person gets beheaded. You don't really get to see that though.

Nope. This movie was shot in a Dry (as in sex dry) County... although creepy little Nell did try to seduce the camera chick. She wanted it too!

Preachers lie! Also, don't ever butt into people's family business, especially in the deep south. Those people don't cotton much to outsiders. Heh. Cotton.

This is a tough one for us, me in particular, to grade. On one hand, it was enjoyable and added a little twist to the found footage genre. On the other, it felt a bit tame and never really went to the places that I feel it could have gone to had they pushed it... The ending seemed to piss people off too, though I didn't hate it other than the fact that it felt rushed. I don't know. It's a decent little movie with a bunch of flaws. Maybe I need to watch it again and see how it settles with me. You, however, may just like it.

B-

*Addendum- We found that this movie held up well on repeated viewings, and that we actually liked it more the second time around.

You know, she cleans up pretty well.

2 comments :

  1. If the prime objective of the movie was simply to scare the viewer, then I would probably agree with your assessment -- if not the majority assessment of horror fans who walked away completely unsatisfied, if not angered, by the experience. I don't think that's what the movie was going for though, and I found the most compelling thing to be the way that the main character puts his skills -- honed over a misspent life of deceiving the credulous and desperate -- to an ostensibly 'good' purpose for the first time, and still ends up treading some extremely dubious moral ground when the situation spins out of control.

    I didn't find the ending to be a 'crazy twist one' at all, since all the developments that took place where adequately, if subtly, foreshadowed throughout the rest of the movie. For me, the real horror of the movie stemmed from seeing the end that would befall these kinda-likable characters, and their gradual moving closer to it. I think the main reason that it doesn't push harder is because most, if not all, the events in this film are meant to be up in the air insofar as whether their cause is supernatural in origin, or a case of misdirection/deception (intentional, or otherwise). In the end I was fine with that, even though what I went in for was a more traditional exorcism movie.

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  2. Interesting review,this one seems to be getting a lot of mixed ones as well.I definitely want to check it out when I get the chance

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