The Last Exorcism parents guide

The Last Exorcism Parent Guide

Unfortunately, the script does little more than further the negative stereotypical portrayals of religious believers as fanatics and Southerners as illiterate, incestuous and superstitious.

Overall C-

Although Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) has exorcised demons before, he has decided that the case of Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) will be his last. And he arranges to have a film crew document the procedure. But what they capture with the camera looks more like a horror movie than a religious act.

Release date August 27, 2010

Violence C-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity B
Substance Use A

Why is The Last Exorcism rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Last Exorcism PG-13 for disturbing violent content and terror, some sexual references and thematic material.

Run Time: 87 minutes

Parent Movie Review

In the Deep South, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is a well-known preacher who began working in the ministry as a child and performed his first exorcism while still an adolescent. Now as an adult he often receives impassioned pleas from those seeking relief from demons. But Cotton, who has perfected the showmanship aspect of his sermons, is facing a crisis of faith.

After reading about exorcisms that resulted in the death of children, he determines to expose these acts as fraud. To do so, the religious shyster (with all the saintly sincerity of an unscrupulous used car salesman) decides to accept one last invitation to reclaim an innocent soul. While doing so, he plans to expose all his tricks of the trade to a documentary film crew he is bringing along.

With a smirk on his face, Connor drives with his sound specialist (Iris Bahr) and a cameraman to the Louis Sweetzer farm where he is greeted by a distraught father (Louis Herthum) with strong fundamentalist beliefs. In an emotional voice, Louis recalls the recent death of his wife and the impact it has had on their family. He also introduces the trio to his son Caleb (Caleb Jones) and his teenaged daughter Nell (Ashley Bell). He accuses the innocent looking young girl of killing and disemboweling the family’s farm animals and presents her bloody clothes as evidence of her deeds. Nell, on the other hand, has no recollection of the nightly activities she is supposedly involved in.

Employing a few slight-of-hand tricks to convince Louis of his power, Cotton finally agrees to execute an exorcism but only after he has personally prepared the bedroom where the event will happen with props that will help simulate a departing devil. With the camera rolling, the purging takes place. And by nightfall the team has left the farm and settled comfortably in their hotel rooms five miles away. Then Cotton wakes in the night to find Nell standing beside his bed in a blood splattered nightgown. Wide-eyed and unresponsive, the girl looks more possessed than ever.

If the erratic movements of the handheld camera haven’t begun to bother you by this point in the film, the increasing gore might. Taking a knife, Nell slashes open her brother’s face. (The act takes place off screen although Caleb’s blood soaked mouth and clothes are seen as he tries to stop the bleeding.) Lashing out like a wild animal, Nell also becomes increasingly demonic as the plot continues, contorting herself into strange positions and breaking her own fingers. Throughout the production, the moviemakers maintain the notion that this is a factual film, much like producers promoted the reality of paranormal activity in The Fourth Kind).

Unfortunately, the script does little more than further the negative stereotypical portrayals of religious believers as fanatics and Southerners as illiterate, incestuous and superstitious. Using the simple tactics of camera angles, scary sounds and darkened sets rather than an excess of complicated computer generated special effects, the movie manages to create a sense of suspense. However the focus on satanic rituals may disturb some young viewers or spark a curiosity in the occult among others.

Though this film is titled with the promising adjective "last", a sampling of similar type horror movies (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Haunting in Connecticut, Dark Water and The Skeleton Key) already on DVD shelves, proves it might be too optimistic to hope that this is truly The Last Exorcism we’ll see.

Directed by Daniel Stamm. Starring Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release August 27, 2010. Updated

The Last Exorcism
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Last Exorcism rated PG-13? The Last Exorcism is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing violent content and terror, some sexual references and thematic material.

Violence: The corpses of disemboweled and bloody animals are depicted on a couple of occasions. A girl is repeatedly seen wearing blood-soaked clothing. A young man has his face slashed open with a knife (while the act is not seen, gratuitous amounts of blood are shown later). A character throws dirt clods at a car with people inside. A character is jolted with a battery’s current. Scary sounds and convulsions are part of an exorcism. A character is chained to a bed, locked in rooms and later threatened with a gun. Bullets are fired in an attempt to scare or kill characters. A girl appears to be drowning a baby in a bathtub. A cat is attacked and killed (bloody imagery is shown). A character breaks her fingers. It is implied that characters are burned, hacked to death and beheaded.

Sexual Content: Sexual activity is implied between characters. An unwed pregnancy is talked about and a scene of childbirth is shown. Incest is briefly discussed. A character confesses his homosexual interests.

Language: The script includes less than a handful of terms of Deity used as profanities. However, these terms are used frequently in religious settings or during the exorcisms.

Alcohol/Drug Use: None noted.

Other: A character licks and kisses the arm of a woman following the exorcism and later vomits violently. Blood-splattered pictures and occult symbols cover the walls of a home. Satanic rituals are depicted along with frequent discussions of devilish phenomena. Some audience members may be subject to motion sickness from the handheld camera work.

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The Last Exorcism Parents' Guide

How does this storyline contribute to negative attitudes about different groups, including religious believers? Is this an accurate depiction of persons of faith? How does it impact the way viewers may look at Southerners? Do we see any positive portrayals of those hailing from this part of the country?

While computer graphics are used in many movies to create special effects, this film relies predominantly on age-old tactics. Are these devices, such as the blood splattered camera lens, spooky sounds and dark sets, effective in creating suspense? How does the cost of using these methods compare with paying for computer animation?

Are there dangers in dabbling in the occult? If so, what might they be?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Last Exorcism movie is January 4, 2011. Here are some details…

The Last Exorcism releases to DVD and Blu-ray on Junuary 4, 2011, with the following bonus extras:

- Audio Commentary by Producers Eli Roth, Marc Abraham and Thomas A. Bliss

- Audio Commentary by Director Daniel Stamm and Actors Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian and Louis Herthum

- “The Devil You Know: The Making of The Last Exorcism” Featurette (approx 20:04)

- “Real Stories of Exorcism” Featurette (approx 14:30)

- 2009 Cannes Film Festival Teaser Trailer

The Blu-ray version also includes these additional materials:

- Ashley Bell Audition Footage

- Patrick Fabian Audition Footage

- 2009 Cannes Film Festival Teaser Trailer (SD)

- Theatrical Trailer

- LIONSGATE LIVE (Ringtones/Wallpapers/Facebook/Twitter)

- BD Touch Enabled

Related home video titles:

The plight of another parent is portrayed in The Forgotten when a woman is told she was never a mother and the son she believes she had never existed. Suspense also builds when an alien virus turns human beings into zombies in The Invasion. Caleb Jones plays a less gory role in the football movie The Longshots.