Review: The Last Exorcist (2020)
I don’t know how many exorcists the Catholic Church has, but it can’t be many. Because in the opening minutes of The Last Exorcist, all of them are killed by a terrorist bomb. You would think they would know better than to put them all in the same place as that. But it is what it is, and they’re off to collect their 72 altar boys in Heaven.
One of them was Father Peter, helped raise Jo (Rachele Brooke Smith, Cold Moon, Nightmare Shark). Jo is a devout young Catholic girl who helps out at the church. Her sister Maddie (Terri Ivens, Coven, 86 Melrose Avenue) is a little less bothered by his death. She’s too busy being a drunken slut like their mother to care.
Shortly afterwards they get a visit from Marco (Danny Trejo, Slasher Party, Cartel 2045) a former priest who knew their late mother. He warns them bad things are coming and to keep in touch with him. Cue flashbacks, hallucinations, and Maddie making somebody burst into flames at Father Peter’s funeral.
Writer/director Robin Bain has one previous feature to her name, the acclaimed drama Girl Lost. Unfortunately, she seems lost when it comes to how to make a horror film. The Last Exorcist certainly has the elements of a successful horror film. Murders, demons, family secrets, they’re all there. The problem is, she has no idea how to assemble them into a successful feature.
Bain constantly cuts back and forth between the past and present, never letting the story get any real momentum. Flashbacks are a useful plot device, but here they’re badly overused. As a result, The Last Exorcist feels like a jumble of incidents rather than a coherent narrative.
If the film at least had been shot with some flair, it could have been an entertaining mess. But everything feels flat and uninspired. The girl’s mother killing a man in front of them is dull. The guy bursting into flames at the funeral is laughable. Jo in priestly robes having to interrupt her sister’s exorcism for a martial arts battle with a demonic terrorist doesn’t even work on a WTF level.
Bain has since gone on to do a thematic follow up of sorts to her first film, Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story. I’m tempted to say The Last Exorcist was a cynical attempt to make a buck in between more “serious” projects. It certainly feels like she had no real interest and put none of the talent that got her first film praised, into this. On her website, the film’s sole mention is sharing a sentence with another film. Potential viewers should show it the same lack of interest.
The Last Exorcist will be available on DVD and Digital, October 13 from Uncork’d Entertainment.