Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Last Exorcism
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   

The Last ExorcismThe Last Exorcism can’t help but feel a bit like a recycled Blair Witch Project. It’s true that the shaky hand-cam technique has suffered overkill, but great performances and a smart script make this a fun low budget thrill – even if it might not be what audiences are expecting.

Just to clarify, this is NOT a sequel and has nothing to do with The Exorcist franchise.  It follows the story of Reverend Cotton Marcus, a long practicing preacher and expert in “demonic possession” who has lost his faith. He invites a camera crew with him to Louisiana for his final “exorcism”, involving a fundamentalist father who believes his teenage daughter is possessed by a demon. The goal is for Cotton to expose the tricks used to pull the wool over the eyes of believers willing to pay good money for an exorcism, but the situation spirals out of control.

Rev Cotton pulling the wool over their eyesRather than rely on expensive special effects and computerized chills, the strength of The Last Exorcism is in the performances. Patrick Fabian plays Rev. Cotton with gusto. In a strange way I was reminded of Sharlto Copley’s unforgettable performance as Wikus in District 9! In both films the main character undergoes a transformation from light-hearted jokester to traumatized and burdened. In this case the transformation is a spiritual one.

Possession sure is tough on the bodyAshley Bell plays the demonic daughter perfectly, alternating her sweetness with contrasting violence and bone chilling stares into the “eyes” of the camera. She is scarily unpredictable.

The film is not the polished Hollywood horror that audiences are probably expecting. It’s slow pace builds tension slowly, and the creepy payoffs are few and far between, but The Last Exorcism is worth watching if only for the great performances.


Directed by Daniel Stamm, starring Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell.

Producer Eli Roth (Hostel) felt so strongly about the film that he used Twitter posts and viral web videos to build anticipation.

The original title of the film was Cotton, but the studio felt it was too vague to draw audiences in.