Shot found-footage style, and is presented as a documentary. Cotton (Patrick Fabian) is a faith healer who performs exorcisms. After realizing how exploitative exorcisms have become, he decides to film how he fakes exorcisms to discourage the performance of them. His faithful crew members Iris (Iris Bahr) and Daniel (Adam Grimes) accompany him to the Bible Belt in Louisiana to film his eponymous last exorcism. Cotton’s patient Nell (Ashley Bell) is sweet and pleasant most of the time, but a vicious monster when possessed. They also have to deal with her sullen brother Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) and her alcoholic father Louis (Louis Herthum). Cotton’s plan backfires when Nell’s violent attacks worsen, and his treatments don’t work. When Louis refuses to get Nell psychiatric help, the only solution seems to be another exorcism.
Cotton is an interesting character. He’s sympathetic in that he’s trying to help people and support his family, but he’s also a smarmy fake. When Louis, who’s poor, hands him what appears to be a wad of fifty-dollar bills, he assures Louis patronizingly, “There’s no reason to count it.” His sermons are based on spirited yelling more than content. He is shown reciting a banana bread recipe rather than something biblical, and his flock eats it up (bwa ha ha pun intended). As he is described: “Quite a character. A showman, a performer.”
The film presents the theory oft-used in this type of film that if one believes in God, one must believe in demons, and vice versa. As with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Nell’s possession is real. It seems to support a Christian viewpoint. But then Christians are not portrayed kindly, from tricksters to hicks—the ending is also not very happy.
Great performances abound, particularly Ashley Bell as Nell. She’s creepy and does all her own contortions (thank you, IMDB). There are a few creepy moments, like the shot of a possessed Nell looking in the mirror, but it’s foggy and her face isn’t quite visible. The scene when Nell breaks her own fingers is hard to watch.
My sister Leslie hated it, but I rather like it. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for a tale of an exorcism gone wrong, produced by Eli Roth.