The fifth year of Toronto After Dark was one of its biggest, with the line-up including films such as The Human Centipede, I Spit on Your Grave, High School, and Rubber. Then there was what is perhaps still one of the biggest screenings in Toronto After Dark history, as producer Eli Roth and stars Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian showed up to present the found footage horror film The Last Exorcism, which will be the film that I am revisiting today.
The Last Exorcism began a phase in Eli Roth's career, where he took a six year hiatus from directing horror films and began producing and throwing his name on films by up-and-coming filmmakers. The Last Exorcism was directed by Daniel Stamm, whose only film since has been 2014's 13 Sins.
The Last Exorcism arrived fairly early in the rejuvenated trend of found footage horror films, which began following the release of Paranormal Activity the previous year. In The Last Exorcism, a documentary crew is following a small town preacher named Cotton Marcus, who has been known as a renowned exorcist. However, Cotton reveals to the crew that he is an Agnostic and he only performs exorcisms to give supposedly possessed people peace of mind. In fact, the whole purpose of this documentary is to show the world how much of a fraud exorcisms are. Of course this turns out to be not the case.
Most definitely the main breakout in The Last Exorcism is Ashley Bell as the possessed teenager Nell, particularly for her now infamous ability to contort her body during the film's main exorcism. Sadly, Ashley Bell has almost been typecast with her role in The Last Exorcism, with her not having many other notable roles, other than her performance in the 2011 post-apocalyptic thriller The Day.
Probably one of the most interesting aspect of The Last Exorcism is its Rosemary's Baby style twist, where a Satanic cult was responsible for Nell's possession. I believe this aspect of the story is elaborated upon in 2013's The Last Exorcism, Part II, though I never ended up seeing that film, since it's kind of unnecessary to have a sequel to a film with the word "last" in the title. However, I can still say that I still enjoyed the original Last Exorcism five years later.