I am a horror movie fanatic. Ghosts? No problem. Blood shed? Love it. Axe welding homicidal maniac chasing horny teenagers through the woods? Bring it on.
The one thing in the horror movie genre that I have a hard time watching is anything to do with demonic possession. Maybe it's the Christian in me. Maybe it's the fact that demonic possession is thought to be real by some. Or, maybe, I'm just a wuss.
Knowing this about myself, I decided to go see The Last Exorcism at the movies. The film was supposed to take a different approach to demons and those that house them. I can handle it when a movie has more to it than just a little girl laying in the bed spitting out green pea soap. This is why I enjoyed the Exorcism of Emily Rose. The audience was never told whether or not she was actually possessed. It was a drama that forced the viewer to draw their own conclusions. I could handle that. I walked into The Last Exorcism ready to do the same thing. In no way was I prepared for what I watched.
I picked the wrong day to skip church.
The movie follows Reverend Cotton who has made the decision to leave the pulpit. He allows a film crew to follow him on his last mission to exorcise a demon out of a sixteen year old girl, named Nell. However, the good Reverend is not like most that perform these rituals. He doesn't believe in the devil. And because of this, he openly admits to not believing in God. We watch Cotton perform the exorcism. He shows how he manipulates his surroundings by hooking wire to the bedposts and picture frames to make them move. He has a tape recorder with demonic sounds coming from under the bed. He even has rings on that shoot small currents of electricity into the victim's temples. These people believe that an actual exorcism is taking place; even though it's all smoke and mirrors. When Cotton is done with his performance, the father is happy, Nell is happy, Cotton is happy, and I am happy. So far so good.
And then it got creepy.
The whole movie is shot like a documentary. I have seen plenty of movies shot this way. Frankly, I could care less about them. The style is jumbled and most of the time you can't tell what's what. But, for this movie it really worked. I felt the tension build as Cotton and his film crew begin to discover that something isn't quite right with the teenager. I could feel their confusion when they heard multiple voices coming from Nell's locked bedroom. And you can just forget how creepy o'le girl looks when she's asked who she's talking to.
"No one." She says as she stares at the camera. Yeah, ok. Whatever. I'm out.
One of the scariest scenes is when Nell gets the camera and walks out to the barn. While everyone is asleep, she takes a knife and kills the family cat. The camera is out of focus and all you see is blood splattering as poor Snowball meets his maker. And there are also the quiet moments of neck cracking she does that make me want to see a chiropractor.
When it becomes apparent that something is seriously wrong with the teen, her father gives Cotton an ultimatum. Either perform another exorcism or he will kill his daughter, thus saving her from the evil clutches of whatever has her possessed. As Cotton argues with him, I am sitting in my seat cheerfully yelling, "Shoot her! Now! In. The. Head!" My fellow movie goers agreed with me.
This movie really got to me. It creeped me out. It scared me. It made me hurt. Nothing jumped out at me like is the norm in horror films. This was just your basic evil feel of a movie. Which, in going back to what I said in the beginning, is why I do not like movies dealing with demonic possession. It's like the evil in the movie jumped out and tried to grab me.
I ain't gonna be right for a long time.