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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Last Exorcism04:32 AM -- Fri October 21, 2011

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A priest doesn't really believe in exorcism, but he's been doing them anyway, with the thinking that he's giving people peace of mind and it's worthwhile. Since reading an article about a kid getting killed during an exorcism, he's changed his mind and decided not to do them anymore. To make that extra positive, he's taking a documentary crew to one final exorcism, so they can see how it's all fake. Contortionism ensues.

Scariness Type: There are jump scares and gore, but the main thing that really had me creeped out was just the fear of what might happen next. I kept half-averting my eyes just in case something horrible was going to happen. I don't know if this was scarier than the other movies or it's just that I watched it alone at night... I tend not to, just because I don't want to have to write these reviews late, but it really seems to be effective. I probably should be doing that.

Rating: 4/5 Nice Boots.

Good Stuff: This is our second mockumentary (not sure that term applies to non-comedy, but it is indeed a mock documentary...), and that has a certain appeal. The plot really works here, where it has a bunch of layers, and you're constantly guessing whether it will turn out all real or fake (not real real, but real in the context of the movie, if you follow me). There's a certain point by which you're convinced it must be real, then a later point where that's turned back around. Then it twists around more! That certainly kept me interested. And the events of about the middle third of the movie had me trying not to watch, because it was some scary stuff.

There are basically three endings to this movie. The first one I was like "ooh, that's a really cool ending!". I liked how it worked and what it relied upon (the vaguest sentence ever written, but spoiler-free!). The second one twists that around and I was like "OH SNAP", and I really wish it had ended not there exactly, but that it had continued with that revelation and concluded accordingly (I can think of a couple fun final scenes for that). I was all amped up for that. But then there's the final ending, and I'm not gonna complain, it was exciting and enjoyable, but it certainly throws away any ambiguity we had previously, and takes the whole story in a pretty wild direction. I don't know, it was definitely interesting, and a truly good ending, but it took away the ending I was so excited about, so I begrudge it.

Bad Stuff: Unlike Lake Mungo, there was never any feeling that this could be a real documentary. It's too slick, the camera is too convenient, and the characters are too 'charactery'. No awkward slips of the tongue, just good clean acting. That's all okay, because if they hadn't done the documentary format, that would've been perfectly fine, so you can just let it go, but I give Lake Mungo credit for pulling it off a lot more realistically. However, back to Good Stuff, there's one scene that really takes advantage of the documentary format in a clever and disturbing way.

Speaking of unrealistic, the part where the priest is doing his exorcism, intercut with showing off the tricks to the camera crew, I don't buy that for a second. No exorcist in real life, no matter how big a charlatan, uses portable speakers and other big tricks like that in the room. First of all, you'd have to get them in and out undetected (it's never explained how he removes them). Secondly, hearing actual demon voices (out of tinny computer speakers!) would immediately convince anybody in this modern age that it was all fake. And it's so incredibly risky anyway. Somebody will spot your wires and tools one time, and then the jig is up. It's about subtlety, people. That's how I do my exorcisms, anyway.

Classic Rules of Film: I've got a good one here, the classic "show a gun, then it goes off later", but it's not any sort of weapon, and I can't tell you what it is, because it'd be a big spoiler.

My Take: I can't shake the feeling that I've actually seen this movie, or rather the second half of this movie, before. Only my memories are so vague that I wonder if it was just deja vu, or possibly some kind of behind the scenes special I caught in a hotel somewhere. I don't know. I must have! This is eating at my soul like a demon. Oh well. I enjoyed it, if being creeped out and disturbed is enjoyment. The plot was a lot of fun for me, I'm a big plot guy. Give me twists and mysteries and things that connect together later and I am just a happy camper. And you know, as an added bonus, the scary stuff in this movie basically ended about fifteen minutes before the movie did, and the rest was more interesting than scary, so it let me relax on my way out of the movie. Without feeling let down either. Well played, Last Exorcism, well played.

Artistic Nonsense: Ah, the skeptic vs. the supernatural. In fiction, it can only end one way. In reality, it can only end the other. Kind of silly really. There were points in this movie where I was almost cheering because it seemed like they were going to actually go out on the realistic path, without making it just a fizzle-out. On the contrary, the ending I wanted most would have been a huge earth-shattering conclusion, and I think all the stronger for not having to resort to magic.

Our next movie is going to be Birdemic: Shock and Terror. From what I've read, it appears to be just about the worst movie ever made, so I'm pretty excited. Also apprehensive, because that can often lead to extreme tedium, but I'm just rooting for awful effects, fast pace, and nonsensical acting.
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