Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) was raised in the church and as a son of a Reverend it was kind of inevitable that he would follow in his father's footsteps. But some time after his son was born some thing caused Cotton to question his faith and stop believing although he kept the masquerade up allowing a documentary team to come and video him. It is with the documentary makers he goes to the home of Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) who believes she is possessed by a demon so Cotton conducts one of his phoney exorcisms with the use of gizmos and gadgets to trick everyone in to believing he has exorcised a demon. But things don't end there as Nell seems to be a genuinely disturbed child when later that night she shows up at Cotton's motel room. No longer believing in demons Cotton believes there must be some logical explanation for her extreme behaviour.
I generally have a dislike of found footage/ fake documentary movies because I find it incredibly hard to let go of the fact that they are phoney. But having not seen any of the advertising for "The Last Exorcism" or read any other reviews I wasn't aware that it was a found footage movie and in a way that helped. But in truth I was strangely impressed by "The Last Exorcism" more than I ever expected and even afterwards when the thoughts of how convoluted it was were in my head I still found myself impressed.
Now the annoying thing is that to review "The Last Exorcism" properly would mean I would have to give various twists away and I don't like to do that so I will try not to. It actually starts pretty standardly and quite amusingly as we see Cotton being interviewed for this documentary where he highlights how when you whip a congregation up in to a frenzy and toss in a few "amens" you can get away with saying anything. It is kind of amusing as is what follows when Cotton and the documentary team show up at the Sweetzer home and he stages a phoney exorcism with pre-recorded sounds and so on to dupe the family in to believing what they are seeing and hearing.
Bu after this the movie starts to reveal itself as Cotton realises something is seriously wrong with Nell and the Sweetzer home and he seeks a logical explanation. We get one twist which suggests something then something we learned about Nell's brother earlier makes us wonder something else and so it goes on as we get a series of twists. As I said, when "The Last Exorcism" is over you will be thinking that is a bit convoluted but at the same time the way it evolves from one thing to the next makes it entertaining. And so is the horror aspects of the movie as not only has it the unsettling side of possession with some decent visual but it has some short sharp shocks with some gruesome scenes.
But there is something else which "The Last Exorcism" does which helps the movie and that is a cast of competent actors who play their parts well but for me are not actors I remember seeing elsewhere. Maybe I have but none of their previous acting experience has made them a big star which is the last thing this sort of movie needs.
What this all boils down to is that I was pleasantly surprised by "The Last Exorcism" as although it ends up convoluted the way the story builds is reasonably clever and there is a nice mix of horror with mystery and even some comedy.