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Flick takes place in 1978 with country girl Vivian Fontaine (Ashley Bell) not having a good day. Her home is being sold out from under her and while at the bank getting turned down for a loan to save it, she’s taken hostage by two ex-cons (James Landry Hebert and Michael Villar) who rob the bank. That’s the least of her problems, as the three find themselves in a stretch of remote wilderness stalked by psychotic ex-soldier Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy), who slaughters anyone that enters his domain. Soon Vivian finds herself alone and in a battle for survival against the well-armed and quite deranged maniac.
Flick is written and directed by Mickey Keating who is proving himself quite diverse in his influences with films like the David Lynch-esque Darling and the X-Files-ish Podunder his belt. Here he delivers a brutal and twisted little movie that seems to have a bit of a Rob Zombie influence, as it did evoke some of the imagery, brutality and a bit of the deranged humor that was on display in Zombie’s first two flicks. But this is very much Keating’s own movie and he starts us out with the story in progress, with robber Lenny (Villar) wounded and Scorpion Joe (Hebert) pulling hostage Vivian out of the trunk to help him. We then get some brief flashbacks to fill us in on some character and plot details as the crazed Wyatt discovers the intruders on his land and the hunt/action begins. The film is stylish and off-beat and very entertaining as our girl-next-door Vivian tries to overcome a superior enemy and escape with her life. The film is intense, strange and very violent at times and does entertain as it intends with the oddball Wyatt tracking/tormenting the dazed and desperate, yet not totally defenseless, Vivian. It’s a twisted little flick, that tells it’s story in a Tarantino meets Rob Zombie kind of way. It’s not perfect, as Keating’s influences are a bit too obviously borrowed from at times and one character just disappears, which makes one question why they were included at all. But when all is said and done, Keating accomplishes what he set out to with splattered brains and all.
The cast go a long way in making this work and work well. Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism) delivers a strong heroine in her Vivian. She is a simple country girl who starts out trying to save her home and ends up trying to save her life. Bell gives her a dazed look of a woman who just got dumped into the frying pan and then the fire and is trying to just stay alive and somehow get home. She gives Vivian a simple tenacity and a strong will to survive with a touch of frustration and confusion. She is endearing and likable. Pat Healy (Innkeepers, Tales Of Halloween) portrays a true psychotic, but yet not one who doesn’t deliriously enjoy what he is doing. He is arrogant and self-righteous and while his motives are not completely explained, the religious symbolism around his lair and in what he says and does, implies he is doing God’s work in some form. Healy is threatening and dangerous and a touch humorously demented and it is a good role for an underrated and versatile actor who can play both hero and villain. Ex-con and thieves James Landry Hebert (Skateland) and Michael Villar have smaller parts, but Hebert succeeds in making an impression as Scorpion Joe. He’s another underrated character actor who does good work when on screen. There is also an appearance by Alan Ruck as Wyatt’s sheriff brother who keeps cleaning up his sibling’s messes, despite the emotional drain of the conflict of interest and indie icon Larry Fessenden as one of Wyatt’s prey.
So, not a perfect thriller, but one that is successful in being 80+ minutes of twisted entertainment. Mickey Keating’s films seem to illustrate a variety of influences with him channeling a bit of Rob Zombie in this, his latest film. It’s off the wall and sometimes brutally violent and has a good cast to make it work very well. A fun and demented little movie, that while not completely original, amuses with a healthy dose of bullets, blood and weirdness.
If you haven’t seen part 1 and intend to, you may find some of the details here as spoiler material for the first installment…
Sequel to the creepy and effective found footage flick The Last Exorcism starts out promising enough with a spooky sequence of a young couple confronting an intruder in their home that turns out to be Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) from part 1. Nell is taken to a hospital and then without much investigation into what actually happened in the woods that night, she’s released to an all girls boarding house. Things seem to be going fine for young Nell, new friends, new job, the interest of a nice boy. But, before you can say “Linda Blair” Nell starts seeing and hearing things indicating the demonic presence that possessed and impregnated her last time is seeking her out for a second date. Now Nell must once again face this dark force that plagued her once before, leading up to yet another last exorcism. Sequel not only abandons the found footage format that made it a bit unique last time but, instead embraces every tired exorcism cliche’ it can. Flies, shadow figures, levitation, kamikaze black bird attacks, ominous prophecies… they are all there and presented in mundane fashion. Film is directed by Ed Glass-Donnelly who co-wrote the weak script with Damien Chazelle and he adds little or no life to the proceedings as the subject matter is so tired and routine and orchestrated in such a by-the-numbers fashion that it has almost no effectiveness. The addition of a voodoo sect trying to protect Nell and thwart the demon’s efforts just comes across as silly and not innovative as it must have been intended. Not to mention that Nell already had the entity’s child in part one and was allowed to escape apparently, so, it’s a little confusing that this evil being suddenly is ‘hell bent’ on possessing her again. Why not just keep her under control all along? Add to that a downright silly conclusion that is borderline laughable and you’ve got a sub-par sequel that has none of what made the original such a spooky treat. Ashley Bell does give another good performance but, her efforts are sunk by the poor script and pedestrian direction and the rest of the cast are wooden and their characters forgettable. Cash grab sequel that’s not worth it unless you feel you must.
Documentary style horror tells the tale of Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) a preacher from Baton Rouge who has lost his faith and now performs fake exorcisms to help cure people of what he sees simply as psychological problems leading them to believe they’re possessed. Cotton has agreed to allow a film crew to document one of his ‘performances’ when called upon to a rural farmhouse where Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum) claims that his 16 year old daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) has a demon inside her. But things don’t go as Cotton and crew plan as it becomes increasing possible that this time the subject’s inner demons are real and Cotton may somehow need to rediscover his faith if he is to deal with it.
As directed by Daniel Stamm, this faux documentary horror takes it’s time getting started, but that makes the flick all the more effective when things start to go wrong. At first we are led to believe maybe Nell is just suffering the psychological effects of the death of her mother and the shame of a teen pregnancy, but things get creepier and creepier till it’s obvious Nell’s unborn child is not the only person in there with her. Last Exorcism provides some very chilling moments and some nice scares as Cotton is slowly forced to believe his lack of faith was premature and the monster that inhabits Nell’s body starts to come out and play. Stamm stages some really chilling set pieces including a real disturbing sequence in the barn where the demon taunts Cotton over control of Nell. The found footage style helps draw us in as if we were there watching the horror unfold. This all leads to the film’s controversial ending which I won’t spoil the details to, but to say I personally liked it. Sure it may have been right out of a 70s horror flick, but as you may have noticed from the movies profiled here, that’s right up my alley.
All in all, Last Exorcism is a very effective and spooky flick and is given plenty of atmosphere by it’s director and helped along with some good performances by it’s cast, especially Ashley Bell who really can turn on the creepy with her malice filled stares and body movements one minute and yet, appear sweet and innocent the next. The film maintains the fake documentary style well, despite having an actual but effective movie score, and it’s a chilling little treat. And as for it’s much talked about ending, in my book it worked just fine despite being a bit more of a ‘movie’ ending then the found footage style may have required. It payed homage to some of the horrors I grew up with and I’ll give the filmmakers a break if they got a bit theatrical as compared to the more intimate horror of the rest of the movie. A good Saturday night horror flick.