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Linda Blair Witch Project: Exciting and fresh at first, The Last Exorcism then drops the ball 

The Last Exorcism is a pain in the ass. A lot of movies tick me off, but this one takes the cake.

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The Last Exorcism is a pain in the ass. A lot of movies tick me off, but this one takes the cake. Movies with either "Exorcism" or "Haunting" in the title have a high rate of sucking, but with The Last Exorcism I thought I'd found something completely different. I was once again duped and mistaken because this flick had me entertained with its initial direction, but in the last ten minutes defeated its entire purpose with an utterly stupid ending. The super creepily shocking previews are beyond misleading. I mean, I counted five bone cracks in the previews and there was merely one in this flick (not that more would have redeemed it).

At the center of the film is preacher Cotton Marcus, a scam artist/preacher/exorcist who, after a crisis of faith, makes it his mission to debunk the myth of exorcism as merely a psychological phenomenon and/or scam. A fast-talking, charismatic guy, he has the best two-minute summation of the existence of demons ever. Following the overdone hand-held pseudo documentary, Blair Witch-camera style, the "found" footage pieces together all the zooms and cuts, telling a compelling story.

With a well-chosen cast, decent dialogue and ambivalent characters, The Last Exorcism offers a welcome twist to the demonic-possession movie. All the acting was superb and believable while the tension and dread were palpable. It even has a creepy, stringed soundtrack and for the longest time it's quite riveting. A well-paced approach to exposing the exorcism myth and medical/physiological ramifications, the methodical tempo generates enough doubt as to what is really happening.

Then, with the finish line in sight, there's a complete meltdown by the writers in the last 10 minutes. The filmmakers botch the ending so badly it makes me think that no one is capable of writing a decent movie in this genre anymore. This is sad. Up until then, I was thoroughly enjoying where this movie's uninterrupted excellence was taking me.

But the inept and totally lazy Devil's Rain/Brotherhood of Satan/Race with the Devil ending is so out of left field, ridiculously unnecessary, cheap and idiotic that it defies any further discussion. This was a brilliant little masterpiece that opted for such a cop-out ending that it ruined everything it had so gallantly strived for.

The Last Exorcism


Starring Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones. Directed by: Daniel Stamm

Rated PG-13


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