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By Horror Channel, Friday 27th January 2017 Type in The Exorcist and you'll find it topping many a 'best horrors of all time' list. Cited as one of the most daring, controversial, and memorable films ever made, there are arguably no other possession films that have been able to top it. The Exorcist is the definitive possession film, having already marked its territory with every trick of the trade; the saliva-frothing, potty-mouthed, head-spinning, green puking little 12 year old eclipsed any other possession antics out there! Bar the 1974 Italian film The Antichrist, we didn't see any good spins on the sub-genre until The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), which was based on a disturbing true story and took the different route of courtroom drama. Indeed, with The Exorcist's monopoly of the genre, the only way one could create something new would be to blend the film with another genre, and take it in a different direction.
Which is exactly what you get with producer Eli Roth's decidedly fresh The Last Exorcism, receiving its network premiere this Saturday 28th January at 9pm.
Here not only does the possession film get a much needed boost, but so does the somewhat Marmite genre of found footage. Director Daniel Stamm - who'd previously only made one other feature, A Necessary Death - gave the film a very genuine feel, even having a real life exorcist on set as an advisor.
The 'found footage' angle takes the form of a documentary following an evangelical preacher on his said 'Last Exorcism'... We meet Cotton Marcus, an instantly affable character willing to lay bare the phoney antics of the Church's exorcism business. Decades of performing exorcisms have led him to believe that it's just a lot of hocus pocus, and the idea of a genuine demonic possession simply isn't real. Until he takes one last call to help a poor farmer with his strange daughter, Nell, initially to debunk the whole theory. Little does he know that Nell is about to force him to take a complete U-turn on his disillusioned beliefs. But the twist doesn't stop there, as the film takes us into even murkier territory in terms of who is manipulating whom, and whether supernatural or psychological forces are at play. Indeed the film allows a certain ambiguity in the horrifying climax, in order for the viewer to make up his or her own mind.
To say any more would be to spoil the film, but look out for two standout performances here; the affable, if smug, preacher Cotton Marcus, played to perfection by Patrick Fabian, and the poor girl in question, Nell, played by Ashley Bell, whose contortionist skills lace her performance with an unearthly, inhuman quality adding to the unnerving feel of the film.
So if you've been feeling a little starved of a good old fashioned possession movie with some new tricks up its demonic sleeve, then open your eyes to this one; you might just be converted!
The Last Exorcism premieres on Horror Channel this Saturday 28th January at 9pm.
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