Reflecting on the possession story that breathed life into the sub-genre
In the horror genre, especially in the era of remakes and sequels, creativity sometimes wears thin. About 44 years ago, a movie came onto the scene which is still talked about as being one of the, if not greatest, scary movies of all time. The Exorcist launched one of the most overused, sometimes abused, tired and played out subject matter that is still going today.
Finding a movie about possession is about as easy as looking for something with ghosts in it. But when I stumbled upon The Last Exorcism a couple of years ago, I fell in love. Now granted, I haven’t seen every movie about satanic possession, but I have seen a big handful which is why I liked this one so much!
Keep reading after the trailer
Being a professional wrestler, you become a skeptic of everything. Ever. You learn that just about everything in life has some amount of “fake” poured into it. So you take everything with a grain of salt. That exact skepticism is what made me love this particular movie.
Basically, the Cliff’s Notes are as follows: Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who was raised in the church since childhood, learns the ways of performing an exorcism and proceeds to help people for years with the spiritual guidance of God. Until one day, his own little boy is born with complications and is saved only by the doctors. The Reverend then realizes his belief in God had no part in saving his son — it was all science. From that point onwards, his belief is gone yet he continues to help people who are possessed via placebo type methods; inviting a documentary crew to film his process.
The routine works rather well until he visits the Sweetzer family.
Now let’s be honest, as different as this one is, it does have a few classic possession style movie tropes in it. But it sprinkles its own unique style of salt and pepper to keep a little variety on that sub-genre plate. The obligatory sweet, innocent girl in need of the exorcism (Ashley Bell) tows the line between cute and creepy. The family is as sketchy as possible; constantly making you rethink everything you’ve just seen. Even the Reverend fighting his own battle of beliefs the entire time adds to the delicacies of the story playing out as the movie progresses.
My personal favorite scene is at the beginning of the movie when the Reverend is showing the film crew all his tricks of the exorcism trade. This is where the viewer gets to see all the tools, “gimmicks,” in which he uses to convince the families that his exorcism is working though in reality, it being all smoke and mirrors.
It’s a neat mix of found footage, satanic possession, mystery, horror and even comedy; not taking itself too seriously early on to not knowing where it will end later. A small cast of very interesting characters added a compelling mix for the viewer. Each character was given some depth to them as a ploy to keep you thinking. I honestly love this movie and every twist and turn it takes.
The Devil Commands
Originally released in 2010, this one kind of flew under the radar. While making a good amount of money, there are many fans out there who don’t remember it. I will sum this up to the fact that one or two of these kinds of movies were released around that same time. Or perhaps it seems that the formula is used in at least one movie a year? Eventually they all blur together from an advertising perspective. Who really knows? The Last Exorcism is definitely worth seeking out to watch. Then watch The Last Exorcism: Part II for good measure. Don’t take my word for it. I only ask….The Devil commands.