The success and hooking factor for a lot of horror films these days lies in the way the film is, well, filmed. “The Blair Witch Project” is a perfect example of this, as well as “Quarantine,” “Cloverfield” and, more recently “Paranormal Activity,” all of which were shot in the “found footage” style. The latest flick to utilize this technique is “The Last Exorcism.” Fans have been ranting and raving about this one, and not just because one of the producers happens to be Eli Roth. Horror fests have been a fantastic platform for this picture, and horror fans are singing nothing but praise as far as technique and originality go. “The Blair Witch Project” tends to take a lot of the credit for introducing this type of filming technique, but it is argued that the Italian exploitation piece “Cannibal Holocaust,” which came out nearly 20 years before “Blair Witch,” was actually the first film to use the “found footage point of view.”
“The Last Exorcism” is shot from a disillusioned Protestant minister’s perspective. After years of performing exorcisms, the minister decides to expose the fraud of his ministry by participating in a documentary which chronicles his last exorcism. Eli Roth produced the film, and is taking a large piece of the publicity cake. Marc Abraham and Thomas A. Bliss also acted a producers for the picture.The screenplay was done by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, and the film’s direction was done by Daniel Stamm. Lets give full credit where credit is due now people, I enjoy Eli Roth as much as the next blood and guts lover, but he’s not a one-man band!
Starring in “The Last Exorcism” are Patrick Fabian (who has been on all the coolest TV shows including “Ugly Betty,” “Big Love,” “Crash,” “The Mentalist” and “Veronica Mars”) as Reverend Cotton Marcus. Joining Fabian is Ashley Belle (who I absolutely love on “United States Of Tara”) as Nell Sweetzer, Iris Bahr as Iris, Louis Herthum as Louis Sweetzer, and Caleb Landry Jones (who also has parts in the upcoming films “The Social Network” and “X-Men: First Class”) as Caleb Sweetzer. The cast is not made up of bonafide superstars but these actors all have experience under their belts — whether in film or television — so I’m amped up for some solid performances.
“The Last Exorcism” first premiered a Sundance in January, and has since made its way around the festival circuit. In June, the film played at the LA Film Festival. The last screened film of at Film4 FrightFest is a coveted slot and on Aug. 30, “The Last Exorcism” will proudly play as the encore. Hailed as the scariest movie of the year and one of the best of the summer in a sea of disappointment, it was not at all shocking to see this year’s Comic Con infested with buzz over “The Last Exorcism.” I think part of the fascination is that a religious act such as exorcism and the general idea that one’s body can be taken over by the devil, insinuating that the audience believes in the devil, is just as taboo today as it was when “The Exorcist” first came out. It’s no wonder the tagline is “If you believe in God, then you believe in the Devil.”
I can’t wait to see if this film really stacks up to its reviews. Religious motives aside, scary is scary regardless of what you believe. I’m anxious to see the camera angles, depths and risks Daniel Stamm used. I also can’t wait to hear what I hope will be a very chilling and appropriate score for the feature. The one surprising aspect I found was that the film is only rated PG-13 for disturbing violent content and terror, some sexual references and thematic material, so language that we all cringed at in “The Exorcist” will be absent and I honestly think its a good thing. Maybe we can focus on a storyline and not a shock wave of graphic material; trust me, we all have good imaginations, no need to smash our faces in it! Even with a lower rating then was expected, people are saying its still a good film and the more censored approach does not take away from the plot or jump moments. I hope they are right.
The trailers look scary and from what I am told, do not even begin to do the film justice. Definitely a flick I will go out and catch at a midnight showing. Let’s just hope that if the film is as successful as speculated, other people besides Eli Roth are acknowledged. If I believe in anything, it’s Roth’s influence in the horror industry. “The Last Exorcism” better be just that, but I hope we don’t see a slew of copy cat films if it succeeds. I’m ready for a scare, a real scare, a deep-seeded, sleep-with-the-lights-on scare — that’s when storytelling on film really succeeds. All I know is that if “The Last Exorcist” lives up to its hype, hallelujah for a marketing campaign that has pulled through this year.
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Follow Jessika Owens on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessika.