THE LAST EXORCIST: The Power of Crap Compels You

Exorcisms have been a topic of horror films for decades. Even the most famous of these, William Friedkin‘s The Exorcist, spawned two sequels, two prequels, and a TV series that ran for two seasons. It’s a tall order for any other exorcism films to compete with, indie or not! The Last Exorcist has a decent Latino cast and an interesting idea or two, but all too often plays like a tepid soap opera lacking in memorable scares. Most of this has been done better elsewhere.

As both writer and director of The Last Exorcist, Robin Bain (Girl Lost) presents a unique hook for the story: If all the exorcists in the world were dead, what would you do if your older sister got possessed?

Exorcising Your Demons

Jo (Rachele Brooke Smith) is pious and hard-working, but her sister Maddie (Terri Ivens) is not. A woman of loose morals, Maddie’s callous behavior often triggers Jo’s flashbacks of their traumatic childhood. Like her mother, Maddie is an alcoholic with destructive tendencies. Also, like her mother, she is possessed. As Maddie starts acting more erratic than usual thanks to jerky movements and demonic shrieks, Jo is forced to contact retired exorcist Marco (Danny Trejo) to make a hard decision.

THE LAST EXORCIST: The Power of Crap Compels You
source: Uncork’d Entertainment

After an entertaining, if over the top, opening showing the world’s last remaining exorcists being killed in an explosion caused by terrorists. Both the editing and the acting are intense cutting quickly between a newscast of the event and the terrorist giving a screed to his kidnapped exorcists before setting off a large explosion. It’s quite the fresh angle to open up an exorcism film on. To its detriment, The Last Exorcist settles into a more relaxed cadence as we transition to the meat of the story. What we get is more of a domestic drama about two sisters whose relationship is on the rocks than a spooky tale of exorcisms and demons.

Satanic Sisters

Much of the film takes its time in fleshing out the relationship between sisters Jo and Maddie. Terri Ivens (Piranhaconda) has the flashier role as the upstart Maddie and plays the “bad sister” convincingly with a nice splash of humor. Rachele Brooke Smith (Nightmare Shark) is saddled with a heroine role that is so goody-goody she ends up a bit flat by comparison.

THE LAST EXORCIST: The Power of Crap Compels You
source: Uncork’d Entertainment

Even the legendary Danny Trejo (The Crow: Wicked Prayer) reins it in as a former exorcist. As the retired Marcos, Trejo comes off as subdued and hesitant. Marcos appears briefly in the beginning and is more heavily featured towards the end. His missing from large gaps in the movie make his character less impactful than it could have been. When we get the bog-standard montage of him training Jo in the ways of the exorcist, things don’t get any livelier. One might expect him or even the entire movie to camp it up a bit, but everything is quite somber much of the time.

A Burning Desire

As The Last Exorcist lumbers along to its exorcisms, some of which are in the irritating omnipresent flashbacks, The Last Exorcist‘s meager budget starts to show its faults. None of the surreal voices, immolations, or unpredictable movements come off as scary. An exorcism should come off like a big event with intense emotional and physical stakes. Instead, they come off as quick hilarious sketches, albeit unintentionally so.

The Last Exorcist‘s biggest failing is that other exorcism films have done the possession sequences leagues better. Frequent flashbacks lead to poor pacing and a sense of an after-school special at times. There is a germ or two of an inspired idea here, but the whole package never gels together. Ultimately, The Last Exorcist brings little new to the well-trod table despite its best intentions.

Say Your Prayers

The Last Exorcist is neither horrific nor revelatory. If you like lousy special effects mixed into a story not worthy of a tired telenovela, you might get a chuckle or two.

Have you seen The Last Exorcist? Post your thoughts below!

The last Exorcist is currently available on VOD and DVD.

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