The Last Exorcism (2010)
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Daniel Stamm
When it comes to movies involving exorcism, nothing can ever top William Friedkin's The Exorcist. Daniel Stamm knows this very well so we are presented with an exorcist film with a twist in both the way it handles the notion of exorcism and the way that the entire movie is presented. It's basically another one of The Blair Witch Project's bastard children, and like so many that were born from that masterpiece, it bears some resemblance in its technical aspects - like the shaky camera that actually gave me motion sickness while watching TLE - while trying to give us more shock value than it really needed to give us.
TLE is quite gimmick heavy so it would be a sin to give away the details of the storyline. Basically, it's about a priest who is performing an exorcism on a teenage girl in a secluded family farm while having the whole thing video taped by a couple of documentary filmmakers. What makes this movie stands out is its realism. You don't get to see projectile vomiting or a 360 degree head twist. Because of that reason alone, the movie immediately becomes more disturbing because we know that what we are seeing in front of us is in the realm of possibility in real life. The acting is quite authentic, especially the charismatic and likable (even to this atheist) priest played to perfection by Patrick Fabian. The supposedly possessed girl also did a great job with her sweet to creepy transition. The movie is so much fun to watch until it decides to abandon its realistic approach in favor of contrived film-making like the ridiculous use of the camera in one sequence and also the implementation of moody soundtracks to accompany the horrific moments.
In the end, what you get here is half of a good movie and half of a rotten one. I really did not like where this movie ended up going but at least I was entertainment halfway through it. There was definitely a missed potential here. If the film were to stick to its original tone of realism and subtlety, it could have easily been one of the best horror movies to ever be conceived. Apparently, the movie didn't learn the one extremely important lesson from The Blair Witch Project: it's not what you see that can make such an impact, it's what you don't see that will makes things so very terrifying.
RATING: 3 out of 5