The Last Exorcism

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 8, 2015

The handi-cam mock-doc approach to feature filmmaking makes sense. You can excuse and explain and indulge in no-budget, no-technique technique—you have your cake and you eat it. Mind you this state of affairs does distract us from a deeper, better truth, which is that observational and verité techniques can work terrifically in outright serious fiction filmmaking. These techniques are not only efficient and effective, but they’re actually true. Think, for instance, of Jean Rouch’s conspicuously successful contribution to Paris vu par

Except that the guys making this movie aren’t anything like Jean Rouch. There is a good concept here. The charlatan exposes what’s fraudulent, and then discovers the substance and necessity beneath the nonsense. A few things go well. A general indirectness works. There’s some slowly mounting menace out in the sticks there, with each member of the family registering pretty well. It might have been that the isolation suggested primordial forces and conflicts. But the guys making this movie mostly seem to be saying that believers are hayseeds. The whole production goes completely down the tubes at the end, which makes no sense in three or four different ways. The town pastor is the big Satanist? It’s suddenly Rosemary’s Baby? And what does it all add up to? Looked like it was going somewhere, or touching upon something. Oops! My mistake. An exploitative mess, basically.