Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Last Exorcism

Despite the Exorcist and Exorcist 3 ranking among my favouritest of horror movies, I have something of a troubled history with Exorcism and possession films in general (Debbil movies) in so far as they are always shit. Not Exorcist 2/Richard Burton drunken priest shit, no, the bad kind of shit. Recently this genre has leaned heavily towards the whole 'based on true events' angle which of course instantly lowers your expectations of anything truly spectacular happening - no headspinning, no levitating, just grunting and sweating. For some reason Hollywood seems to think the 'It could have happened!' angle is the scariest part of a debbil movie.

When actually THIS is the scariest part of a Debbil movie.

My self imposed embargo on any information regarding films which look at all of interest means I went into TLE with literally no idea of what to expect. I didn't know it was a PoV horror movie for a start, a genre which I genuinely love. PoV horror really throws you into the thick of things and if said 'things' are firing on all cylinders you're left with a great experience, ala Blair Witch, Rec and that other one with the demon in the loft. Of course if you start messing with the formula, ala Romero in Diary of the Dead, adding music to 'heighten the drama', things soon fall apart. Just as things were looking promising TLE also started to throw in some spooky music themselves, and again I found myself jolted out of the movie as I wondered 'Who added the music? Was that in post production? Didn't she jump of the ski lift on Curb Your Enthusiasm?' and other such inconsequentials. This additional music also cheats the audience. Someone has edited this footage, someone has shaped it into a narrative and added a score. Or at least that is the definite implication made. Which then leads you to form certain conclusions as to the films outcome. These conclusions are wrong, and it's this level of not so clever manipulation which left a bad taste in my mouth. It's a cheat, and really let's the film down. But then again it appears the movie has alot of these 'cheats' attached, at least as gfar as the marketing is concerned. After seeing the movie I saw this poster.

Bollocks, that doesn't happen and suggests a much more other worldly experience than the one you receive. Just as things do start to take a turn for the creepier and we head off to the ('Emily Rose' style) barn for the big showdown and titular exorcism the story is wrapped up Nancy Drew style at a speed which is so fast it made my head spin (ho ho!)

I wanted to like the movie, and was doing so, but after a steady build it came to an abrupt ending and then this happened...

...or at least that's how it felt. Perhaps truly the strangest ending I have seen in the cinema for a long time, and for all the wrong reasons. Not since I saw Ghostbusters as a kid have I heard such audience participation from a UK audience. But whereas in 1985 people were singing along in unison to the Ghostbusting antics on screen, here there was simply a loud, audible series of grunts, 'shit' and 'bollocks'. One 'woman' wouldn't quit announcing what a pile of shit the whole affair was for about five minutes straight, even when her friend asked her to stop. She then capped off this seering critique with the query 'Did she kill herself then?' Anyone who has actually seen the film will be left as puzzled as I was by this statement. Dozey Mare.

Where TLE does score highly though is with it's lead, Patrick Fabian, whose charisma and overall charm carries the whole movie along. The early scenes as he demonstrates how he performs his exorcist routine,e intercut with the actual 'performance' were a highlight of the movie for me, and the way his motivation for what he is doing is explained is really involving and well done. Hats off to all involved in these scenes.


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