The Last Exorcism – DVD review

Not essential to possess

2010 * 15 * 83 mins * £19.99 * 27 December 2010
Distributor: Optimum Home Entertainment
Director: Daniel Stamm
Cast: Patrick Fabian, Irish Bahr, Louis Herthum

Don’t be fooled by the cover art, which shows a possessed young woman impossibly crammed into a corner of the ceiling: there’s no head-spinning, spider-walking or projectile vomiting of mushy peas on show here. Neither is this latest entry in the increasingly over-populated genre of mock-doc horror as grim or gritty as a cursory scan of the synopsis might suggest.

Patrick Fabian plays Reverend Marcus, a preacher who’s spent years carrying out fake exorcisms. Determined to lift the lid on the practice now that his faith has lapsed, he invites a camera crew to tag along with him on one final case… one which soon torpedoes his smug certitude.

The film has none of the beetle-browed brooding admirers of The Exorcist might expect. With his smoking prop crucifix and recordings of demonic wails, Marcus is a showman – even his decision to “come clean” seems to be motivated partially by a desire to show off – and so is director Daniel Stamm.

Like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, it’s most successful when tapping into primitive fears: what’s out there in the dark? What’s lurking behind that door? Although it’s a shame that incidental music undermines the conceit, it’s briskly paced, with strong performances across the board, and the script keeps you guessing all the way to a faintly ludicrous final-reel flight into the fantastical. But be sceptical of claims that it’s possessed of genius.

Extras:

Three commentaries: one by the producers; one with the director and the three leads; and one featuring a psychologist, a minister, and the victim of a haunting. As well as the usual promotional Making Of (19 mins), you get a featurette on real stories of exorcism (14 mins); interviews with cast and crew; audition footage, material from Cannes, trailers, and a handy protection prayer to chant while you view…

Ian Berriman