There is nothing like a horror movie. Only in a horror movie do you know you are about to get the bejeezus scared out of you, but, the good ones will still scare you, despite telling you it's coming, and you love them for it. I do love me some good horror movies, but I don't care for the gross factor that seems to be mistaken for scary as of late. As a result, most horror movies don't scare me, so when I saw the trailer for the Last Exorcism, I had my doubts.
The Last Exorcism is about a minister, played by Patrick Fabian who has a crisis of faith. He realizes, however, he is very good at spreading the lords prayer, and as a result, is just faking it every Sunday without heart. He also hates exorcisms because he sees perfectly healthy people being killed by a religion he no longer understands. So, he vows to go on one last exorcism with a film crew to show the sham, and maybe save a life at the same time. What follows tests everything both the Preacher and the audience know to be real.
There are good and bad things about this movie, and they can often be the same thing. First off, this movie is very clearly the birth child of two very specific movies, The Blair Witch Project and The Exorcist. It's good and bad, in that both movies I enjoyed, but both had their strong and weak points, and this film has all of those. It has some of the shaky cam, which was surprisingly stable for the most part, which is used quite effectively by the camera crew. The film also has the Exorcist parts as well, in the following of the Preacher, and his quest for faith. Both seemed cliched in this movie, and often feels like they just slapped the two movies together and said 'go,' but if you liked these movies, you'll feel right at home here.
The crown jewel of this movie lies in the Preacher. He is completely believable, and often humorous in his lack of belief in the church. In fact, the first half of the film or so is all about setting up a very real man in a very real world. There are no freaky girls, no demons, nothing scary whatsoever. What follows, is his journey, and the good part is, the character never loses that reality.
I think the other part that is used effectively is the camera. In a movie with a very clear cameraman, the camera is very important, and in one deliciously brutal scene, the camera operator is the most creepy part. There are exceptions, sure, like the tried and true running through the woods scenes, but overall, it's used very effectively.
The films main flaw is in the pacing. Unlike one of my favorite films, Paranormal Activity, this film doesn't have a steady buildup of tension, rather it has none for the first half, cranks the tension up to eleven, turns it off, cranks it back up, and turns it off, and finally turns it all the way up for the finale. While it can be effective, it leaves the first half of the film boring to those wanting to be scared from beginning to end, and only parts of the second half interesting. If you are a fan of documentaries, however, the first half is quite entertaining, because it displays and makes you believe you are watching a very interesting documentary on this Preacher and his attempts to show the world that exorcisms are more about the mental aspect than slaying demons.
Overall, I enjoyed the documentary feel, which seemed very convincing, and I enjoyed the lead actor, but it's something that just feels too much like an obvious combination of two very over-done ideas in something that will leave you shaking your head at the end. If you liked Blair Witch and the Exorcist, however, I think you'll enjoy yourself.