The Last Exorcism – Quick Review

I went and saw The Last Exorcism and wanted to share my thoughts. I won’t give away the movie or offer any spoilers since that would ruin the experience.

Last Exorcism is shot in the same style as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. It’s a lost documentary and has that shaky, much of the movie shot in the dark, can’t see everything sort of style. For the most part I like this style. I think the darker scenes and not being able to see things outside of the camera’s vision is pretty fun.

We follow Cotton Marcus, a man who has been raised to be a Preacher since he was young. His father spoke of demons and performed hundreds of exorcisms. Cotton followed in his footsteps but admits that he’s been pulling the wool over the eyes of his congregation. He’s a showman and readily admits it. He says people all have the same problems so he dazzles them with the word of the Lord to cure what ails them.

To prove his point he asks a camera crew to come along and film him working his magic. He gets dozens of pleas for help from people who think they’re possessed. He says he’ll pick a letter at random and they’ll follow it wherever it takes them. Before opening the letter he gives the details on what it’ll contain because they’re always the same.

So off they go to the Sweetzer farm to perform an exorcism with the camera crew documenting the process.

And we’ll leave the plot there so as not to ruin anything.

The movie has a lot of twists and turns. There’s a lot of information coming at you about the series of events that has happened to this family. Nell, the young daughter, is obviously troubled. Caleb, the son, is angry and hostile. Louis, the father, is overly protective, suspicious, angry, is withholding a lot of information and may have a few dark secrets of his own. You immediately know something isn’t right.

The movie was a lot less scary than I had expected but it’s a moody movie with plenty of wrecked old houses, rusted cars, sagging barns and there is a sense of something lurking throughout. You’re drawn into this odd little world and these bizarre residents. And you know for damn sure everyone is lying. So it’s more of a drama, an unraveling of the clues to figure out what’s going on.

But right as you’re starting to get all the pieces, the movie is rocketing toward the final scene. And those final moments are hectic and somewhat confusing. I wasn’t sure what was going on and how we got to this point and then all of a sudden the movie was over.

In one way the ending makes sense and spins everything off in a whole new direction. In another way, it’s almost out of place from everything we learned up to that point. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Honestly I think it’s one of those things you have to watch again now that you have all the information. I guess that’s the point though, to leave you confused and wondering.

Personally, I like the movie but if anything I wish it had been longer and had more detail. There is a lot more they could have added to support the ending they chose. I had a good time though and think this sits well with movies like Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch.

Who else went to see Last Exorcism? What did you think?

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Best Halloween Movies?

So what are the best movies to watch during this Halloween season? I know a lot of people are fans of the big slasher films like Friday the 13th and Nightmare of Elm Street, and while those have their entertainment value, I’m not a huge fan. Mind you, I liked the "original" originals (Halloween was my personal favorite), but with so many sequels and ridiculous story lines I can’t say I have an interest in most of these anymore. As an aside, the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween was pretty good.

Putting the slashing films aside, what would you consider to be the best horror movies? They can be more subtle like the original Dracula or more blatant such as Saw. To get things started here are a few of my personal choices.

Saw and Saw II (the rest of the series is crap) – I thought these were both well done and offered something new. Very atmospheric and really played to the deception factor. Nothing was what it seemed. And the situations made you cringe and to me that was part of the thrill.

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro) – This came across as a pretty good remake of the old tale. It’s not without flaws, but overall it had plenty of creepy moments and De Niro as the creature was kind and brutal as told in the original book. I’m actually a fan of this one.

The Others (Nicole Kidman) – Not everyone is a fan of hers, but I still liked this movie. It has a certain sense of oppression and gloom about it that works so well for the time period and the setting. Plus, giving the children a condition that makes them sensitive to light keeps the movie dark and moody. There’s plenty of twists, turns and deception. I really liked this one for the story and it’s misdirection.

Flatliners – Still a favorite of mine after all these years. The idea of exploring life after death is very intriguing. I think Oliver Platt is the most amusing character in the movie.

Shaun of the Dead (Simon Pegg) – A great parody (at least I think it’s a parody) of the zombie movies. Plenty of action, plenty of emotion, plenty of brains and plenty of hapless companions being eaten. It’s funny, gory and scary. An excellent combination.

Zombieland – Is this another parody? Hard to tell. Another funny, but gory and action packed deathmatch against the zombie horde. Hang on was this a documentary? A lost diary story?

The Exorcist – This movie is still creepy even after all these years. There’s plenty of exorcism movies out there, but this is the original. It’s a little dated but still has plenty to offer.

Paranormal Activity – I loved this movie until the final 5 minutes. I thought the ending was completely cheesy and awkward. But looking past that, it’s a good movie. The movie is subtle and uses simple techniques to get under your skin. I think the low budget aspect is part of the appeal.

Blair Witch Project – This gets an honorable mention for the technique used in making the movie. Unfortunately with so much hype (and bad sequels) there’s really no surprise factor or excitement to this movie anymore, but if you just accept it for what it is you can still have as much fun with it as Paranormal Activity. It’s cheap and simple and uses the classic techniques of confusion and misdirection.

The Village – I can already hear the boos and sighs. Come on now. For what it was, this wasn’t a bad movie. It wasn’t M. Night’s best work, but it wasn’t his worst either (that would be Signs). It does have some good moments and if you don’t pick it apart looking for the surprise ending there’s a lot to like. Again, this is another movie I like for the ambiance and mood.

The Shining – And not that remake, that was horrid. This is the one we all remember; Jack at the hotel, getting cabin fever, getting the axe and stalking the family. This one has plenty of mind games going on as well as straight on action. The axe in the door is classic! It’s a creepy and fun movie. Well, fun in the crazy guy with an axe sort of way.

Scream – For a quasi-parody, this has plenty of chills and kept you guessing. Some times it was hard to tell if you were supposed to laugh or be scared. Sadly, they ruined a pretty clever movie by creating a slew of third rate sequels.

So what am I missing? What are the other great Halloween/horror/scary movies out there? I’ve seen a lot of them but most are completely forgettable. What spine tingling, make you cringe, make you squirm movies can you recommend?

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The Last Exorcism

From the trailers it kind of looks like the camera work of Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. The story seems to emulate some of the Exorcism of Emily Rose. But the actual summaries I’m reading come across as a little contradictory. On IMDB it says that Cotton Marcus has just run out of faith. In another synopsis it says he’s a fake and is doing the exorcisms just for the money and is conning people into thinking they’ve been cured.

Perhaps it’s a little of both.

This sounds quirky and amusing, and from the trailer it does look like it has some pretty cool elements. But with a PG-13 rating will it actually be spine tingling?

Who’s heading out to see it this weekend? I’d really like to hear what you think. I won’t be able to make it this weekend, but unless it’s absolutely horrid I think I’ll have to go see it.

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Paranormal Activity 2 – Do we really have to do this?

I have to say, I’m a little disappointed by this. I knew it was coming, you can’t have a success in Hollywood without the follow up sequel which then turns into a trilogy, but I was really hoping this was just going to stay a decent, "low budget" thriller. I thought this was a great movie except for the ending. I just hated the way the movie ended. I think there were dozens of betters ways to finish it off that would have been more mysterious and more compelling. But that aside, do you think this movie can capture the thrill and success of the original? Since the first movie was touted as being a real haunting which we all knew was false (you did know that right?) will this follow up actually have any suspense? We’ll certainly have to suspend A LOT of disbelief for this second go round. This could be a fun movie if you pretend the first one never existed…



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