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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

cinematic roots of: ‘The Last Exorcism’

No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from.

In the mock-documentary The Last Exorcism, a charismatic Baton Rouge preacher who gets more than he bargained for when he embarks on what he plans will be his final ceremony to drive out evil spirits. This flick sprang from (among other films):

The Exorcist (1973), the granddaddy of religious horror movies, and one that The Last Exorcism is a clear reaction to, in many ways.

The Blair Witch Project (1999), the movie that ignited the current fashion for is-it-real-or-isn’t-it? documentaries; it also makes a less-is-more style go much further than you imagine it can.

Saved! (2004), about piety-fueled adolescent conformity at a Christian high school; it tweaks religion in a funnier but just as pointed way as Exorcism.

The Reaping (2007), for a peek at the kind of religious-minded idiot horror movies Exorcism is slyly poking fun at; here, Hilary Swank battles Biblical plagues, also in deepest, Jesus-iest Louisiana.
Where to buy:
The Blair Witch Project [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Exorcist [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Reaping [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Saved! [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]

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