I have had a crisis of faith in my life in the past few years.
At one point I was a devout theist and now, it would be safe to say, I have serious doubts.
From a theist to atheist?
Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is an evangelical pastor who has made a similar journey. At the films start he has invited a documentary film crew to follow him as he performs an exorcism on a young woman in the heart of Hicksville...an exorcism of a demon that he doesn't believe exists using faith that he doesn't have.
Using the mockumentary style of "Blair With Project" and "Paranormal Activity" we are dropped into a world where we are never quite sure (until the films disappointingly silly/hysterical final scene) what is "true"...the realms of faith and doubt, science and reason sitting together at every turn. "The Last Exorcism" is a fine addition to the possession genre that, at its best, includes "The Exorcist" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" (with which it has much in common). It also nods to the likes of "Rosemarys Baby" (especially in that hysterical final scene I previously mentioned) and to other horror classics.
Strong performances from everyone, especially Fabian and the excellent Ashley Bell as the possessed "Nell Sweetzer", elevate "The Last Exorcism" from standard horror fare to the sort of smart, sharp and sassy horror flick you will want to see more than once. The best horror film of the year? I think so.