Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Last Exorcism

Struggles Of Faith And Evil
[Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones]

image from boston.com

RANT: My Friday days off from work dwindle as the Summer comes to a close, but the movies keep on coming. As the Autumn approaches, my second favorite season of moviegoing comes. Where the end of Spring and beginning of Summer brings the super hero blockbusters, the Fall brings the creepiness and scares. But some of the best anticipated horror (and comics to screen) is not at the theater, but on basic cable's AMC."Mad Men" move over, there is a new sheriff in town (literally!). For proof, go see "The Walking Dead" trailer at www.amctv.com.

SYNOPSIS: A preacher since a child, Cotton Marcus also comes from a family of exorcists. When tragedy nearing strikes his family, he realizes that his religious faith in God and in exorcism as a righteous ceremony is in question. To show exorcism for the sham it is, he brings a documentary team together to capture one on film. As they follow an urgent letter from a concerned father of his daughter's possible possession and the killing of his livestock, every one's individual faith is tested.

Whenever there is Exorcist or Exorcism in a movie title, you know that I will be at the box office to get my ticket for admission. I have never shook the goose bumps that came along with arguably the most scary movie of all time, "The Exorcist". It was a movie that gnawed at the corners of our actual religious beliefs. And, of course, "The Exorcist: The version You've Never Seen" did little to quench the fears that I never seen, but already felt. While there have been other possession films, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Paranormal Activity", "The Last Exorcism" brings more.

What else does it bring, you ask? I thought it is a straight exorcism tale, you say. It's right there in the title, you point out! Oh, constant reader, this film is perfect tale of possession, evil, struggles of religious faith, southern superstition, and more. I can't really talk about the "more" without giving too much away. Fans of the sub genre of religious horror flicks will equate "The Last Exorcism" to elements of "The Omen", "Rosemary's Baby" and, if I can be so bold, "The Devil's Rain".

Patrick Fabian stars as Cotton Marcus, a family man who grew up preaching in his preacher father's church. He becomes somewhat of a showman and entertainer, as well as a man of faith. But because he has been preaching since he was a kid, he never had time to doubt his chosen path in life. But when his wife's pregnancy runs into complications, Cotton finds himself looking to science instead of his faith for the answers. It is then that he realizes that he is not sure of what his faith is, but in spite of his realizations, he continues preaching because "the show must go on". Marcus also realizes when he reads a newspaper article that another preacher accidentally killed a 10 year boy during an exorcism, that the charade of the exorcism ceremony must be exposed. It is then that Marcus decides to film a documentary to show the craft as a sham.

The family chosen to be involved in the documentary was based on the first letter that Marcus receives once the documentary starts shooting. The Sweetzer family father, Louis, writes that his daughter Nell may is responsible for the slaughter of some of his livestock. Cotton responds and drives out to the farm to prove that the superstitious family simply needs to believe that a make believe demon has been purged, since the issue is more psychological than physical.

I can't give more away for the plot, but the acting is excellent. Patrick Fabian, more of a small screen player, does his character justice. Louis Herthum as the Sweetzer patriarch channels the uneducated facet of religious fanaticism. Ashley Bell as Nell Sweetzer is both charmingly innocent and chillingly menacing and scary. But not to be outdone is Caleb Landry Jones as the Sweetzer brother who shows scorn for the outsiders, love for his sister, and contempt for his father. Iris Bahr Adam Grimes round out the primary cast as the documenting director and the mostly unseen cameraman.

So if you like elements of "The Blair Witch Project", "Paranormal Activity" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", you should see this film. But as I have written earlier, this is not just a demon possession film. It looks at our own religious belief systems. Can you believe in Heaven and the angels without acknowledging Hell, the Devil and demons? Does a shaken faith in God preclude the desire to do good work? Can absolute faith be blinding and damaging? Can good exist without tangible evil? Can you afford to miss this movie? All of these questions can only be answered by the individual.

Worth: Matinee and DVD

As an interesting note, I noticed that most of the cast names reflect the actor's names. Something to wonder about when viewing the director's commentary on the DVD.

I am also trying out a new rating system shown below based on reader reaction to my somewhat complex monetary rating scale. I will give both ratings and see what kind of reaction I muster. A movie can receive up to 5 popcorn buckets. Why popcorn buckets? Because I am a slave to the thousand + calorie delight! Enjoy!

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