At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir describes the genre that the Blair Witch Project launched:
Your horror movie’s going to look like raw documentary footage, full of mistakes and retakes and hinky camera angles and jagged non-edits. In fact, why not make your movie be about a documentary crew, thrown into some situation that seems normal at first but turns out to be scary as hell?
And here’s how O’Hehir describes the genre’s most recent incarnation, The Last Exorcism:
It’s a movie about a movie about a pretty-boy Louisiana preacher (the terrific Patrick Fabian), who’s lost his faith in Jesus and is eager to prove that the demonic exorcisms he’s been conducting for years are fraudulent. When he comes up against what may be the real thing, of course, both he and the hipster camera crew following him around are plunged into mortal danger.
In other words, The Last Exorcism is The Blair Witch Project meets Marjoe. And Marjoe is, of course, the cult classic 1972 documentary about the life of a young, non-believing evangelist who shares the tricks of his trade with a camara crew. The Last Exorcist thus attempts to answer the question, What might happen to a Marjoe-like figure if the devil was, like, really, really real?:
It begins as the story of Fabian’s Cotton Marcus, a handsome Baton Rouge suburban dad who’s been preaching since childhood and selling exorcisms pretty much the way other guys with expensive dental work sell BMWs and McMansions. He’s agreed to take the documentary crew out to see one purported possessee, picked at random, to demonstrate how it’s done.
It sounds like an intriguing premise for a movie, and so I went to see it Friday night. The film has good local buzz (I live in Los Angeles County) and so I viewed it in a packed theater with about 300 other people.
It’s really very good. And scary.
And it has a “Young Goodman Brown” subtext that people who like Nathaniel Hawthorne will appreciate.
That’s all I’ll say. Go see it.
Here’s a clip from the opening of Marjoe. The Last Exorcist begins in a similar fashion: