THE LAST EXORCISM
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Marty.
The movie opens with a documentary crew following around a preacher based in Baton Rouge, La., by the name of Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). We meet his wife, Shanna (Shanna Forrestall) and his 10-year-old son Justin (Justin Shafer). The entire movie is shot as if we’re watching the rough footage of a documentary film crew (kind of like The Blair Witch Project).
Throughout the filming, we sometimes hear or see Iris (Iris Bahr), the documentary director/producer/sound person. We also mostly just hear the cameraman, Daniel (Adam Grimes). Every so often they will ask questions of their subjects, or suggest camera shots or people to interview.
We learn that Cotton’s father, John (John Wright, Jr.), is also a preacher, and John started Cotton early by having him learn the Bible and how to preach when he was very young. Cotton had quite the preaching gift, and becomes an amazing evangelical preacher. We also see footage of Cotton in action as a very charismatic preacher in front of his father’s church congregation.
We also learn that Justin was born premature and Cotton and Shanna had no idea if he was going to survive. He survives, but was born partially deaf. This derailed Cotton’s faith to the point where he was thanking the doctors for his son’s miraculous life, rather than God. Cotton expresses this falling away from his Christian roots directly to the camera. BUT, since he has a family to raise, he continues being a preacher to bring in money.
Cotton and his father discuss a book John keeps in the church safe about various demons that can possess people, especially the innocent children. But aside to the camera, Cotton explains that he doesn’t really believe in demons anymore, especially since his faith had faltered so much. One of the things Cotton does on the side to earn extra money is exorcisms, but we learn later of little trickery he uses to pull off the illusion of demons being cast out of people.
The action then begins to kick in little more when Cotton says he is going to open a letter he received in the mail. He knows it’s an exorcism request and the film crew will get to follow him from start to finish and see the complete process. The letter is from a guy a few towns away in Louisiana who says his daughter is possessed. Cotton points out that the letter contains signs of an atypical exorcism request letter: young girl possessed, slaughtered farm animals, bad crops etc.
On the way to the home, which is way back in the middle of the sticks, they get a little lost and ask a young man in a truck where the Sweetzer house. The young man, who appears to me no more than 18, warns them to turn around, get back on the highway, and leave. Cotton, who is driving, refuses, and starts to drive farther down the dirt road. The young man starts throwing rocks and dirt at them as they drive away.
They do finally find the Sweetzer house, and meet Louis (Louis Herthum), the father. Then the same aggressive young man pulls up in his truck. We learn the rock-throwing boy is Caleb Sweetzer (Caleb Landry Jones), Louis’ son. With Louis there, Caleb is a little more welcoming to the film crew, but barely. With Louis’ blessing, they get permission to have the film crew there.
We then met Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), Louis’ supposedly possessed daughter. She is a sweet teenager or about 16 years of age. They all admire her nice family, picturesque drawings. She then tells Reverend Marcus how she apparently will get up in the middle of the night and slaughter their animals, but not remember any of it.
Reverend Marcus decides to do a “test” to see if she is possessed. He asks for a pan of water to place Nell’s feet in. In all of the moving around of the crew and the Sweetzers, we suddenly hear gasps and see the water start boiling, and Daniel catches it on film. Everyone is shocked. The reverend agrees to perform the exorcism on Nell. As people are milling about, Caleb approaches the reverend and tells him “Nice trick,” meaning he saw the reverend put something into the pan of water to make it churn like it did. Caleb mentions that the reverend’s secret is safe with him. He won’t tell anyone about the trickery. The reverend seems shocked, and yet cautious at Caleb catching him.
The father tells the reverend that once his wife died, he lost a little faith, and left the Christian church they attended in town. (At one point, it also slips out that Louis has been hitting the bottle a lot since the death of the mom.) Louis continues to explain how, to protect the kids further, he had them home-schooled. He even pulled Nell out of Sunday school at the church, because he just felt like something was odd about having her attend there (important!). Still, his deceased wife was a strong, faithful Christian, so he felt it was right to still raise the two children in a Christian home.
The reverend then pulls out that old demon book his pastor dad was showing to him earlier. He tells Louis that his daughter is being possessed by Abalam (he randomly picks a demon). Louis can’t read Latin and so asks Reverend Marcus to tell him what it says. Marcus says that Abalam has defiled Nell, and that the only way to release the innocent child is through death. Louis is shocked. Realizing what he just said (which was probably made up as well), Reverend Marcus adds, unless the demon is exorcized.
Next, the reverend is seen preparing Nell’s bedroom for the exorcism. It’s just him and Daniel who is filming the entire In this case, he’s setting up the tricks to complete the illusion. We see him place thin wire and attach it to a painting so he can make it move at will. He plants small speakers in the room with an MP3 player that plays random moaning and other noises. He sets up the four-post bed to shake. As well as other things.
He then lets the family in to the room. Nell lays on the bed. Her father and brother are in the room also to watch.
Reverend Marcus then puts on a nice show for the group as he is exorcising the demon. He even gently shocks Nell with two thumb rings whenever he places his hands on her head and commands the demon out. Nell, of course, is very freaked out throughout all of this. At one point the reverend says he can’t do it, he’s not strong enough (all part of the show), but Louis pleads for his daughter’s life. Reverend Marcus acts as if he reluctantly agrees, and continues. This time he commands the demon to leave the girl and possess him instead. His body then seizes up, and he slumps to the ground, the crucifix he’s wielding now smoldering with smoke (another trick).
Reverend Marcus states that Nell is free and the demon is gone.
Louis is relieved, and pays the reverend for his work. As they are leaving, the reverend pretends to hear a word from God, and he then tells Louis that he can be released from the prison of alcoholism if he’ll just believe that Jesus is the answer. Louis begins to cry and look to heaven and thank God for watching out for him.
The task completed, the reverend and documentary team travel to the small motel in town. Louis calls his wife and son in Baton Rouge, and then the documentary crew say their Goodnights and leave the reverend’s motel room. The camera is shut off to black.
Next the camera is on again, and Iris and Daniel are racing to Reverend Marcus’ room, which he is standing outside of. Nell is sitting on the edge of his motel room bed in her nightgown. The three start asking questions and wondering what the hell is going on, especially since it’s a 5-mile drive from the Sweetzer home, it’s the middle of the night, and no one knew which motel they were staying in or what rooms.
As Iris tries to comfort the catatonic Nell, she begins to throw up. Reverend Marcus picks her up from his bed and the three race her down to the van. They drive her to the local clinic to seek medical attention. The on-duty nurse demands the camera stay out, but Daniel manages to keep rolling in several covert manners.
Just after sunrise, Louis shows up to the medical clinic, demanding to see his daughter, and wondering why no one called him. Reverend Marcus claims that he tried calling several times, but there was no answer. He also tells Louis that Nell now needs psychiatric treatment from a doctor, but Louis refuses.
As Louis takes Nell home, the reverend and crew stop by the church that the Sweetzers used to attend 2-3 years ago. He first meets Becky (Becky Fly), a kind-hearted, short fat woman in the church, and she then takes them to see Pastor Manley (Tony Bentley). He tells Reverend Marcus that he’ll agree to come out and talk to Louis, but only if Louis agrees.
So, the reverend and film crew drive back to the Sweetzer residence in the middle of the woods. When they arrive, Louis is outside trying to calm down a frantic Nell and drags her inside. When they follow them in, Louis and Nell are heading upstairs, but the three are shocked to see the badly bloodied face of Caleb. Apparently, Nell slashed at his face with a big knife. He can’t speak, so he jots something down on a note quickly. Louis comes back down stairs and asks them to take his son to the hospital. Reverend Marcus refuses and says they will stay with Nell in case the demon arises again. Louis agrees and takes the badly wounded Caleb to the nearest hospital in Baton Rouge. Reverend Marcus shows us what Caleb had written on the note: DON’T LEAVE HER ALONE WITH HIM.
A bunch of weird things happen at once here. They first discover that Louis chained Nell to the bad, but they are able to free her. They notice a picture of a bloody cat that Nell claims she didn’t draw. At other times, when they’re not in her room to give her a chance to rest, they also hear baby cries, and then find Nell trying to drown baby dolls in bathtub water. They also hear Nell speaking with a man in her room, but when they go in, she's alone.
During these oddities, the three overhear as a doctor leaves a message on the answering machine about NOT giving Nell a certain drug they sent her home with when she left the clinic earlier, because the drug could be harmful to the baby as they didn’t know Nell was pregnant.
The reverend and crew are shocked. Iris thinks the father raped her, but the reverend thinks it’s probably just some punk kid in town. In any event, they decide they are going to get some sleep and wait until morning to leave with Nell, since dad and brother are at the hospital for awhile. Daniel shuts the camera off and we have black screen again.
During one of the creepiest parts of the film, the camera turns back on, and a possessed Nell wanders around the house and outside with it. At one point she slaughters a cat. With blood on the lens, she approaches the reverend as he sleeping on the couch, hovering over him getting closer and closer. Just then Iris comes in and yells at her. This wakes everyone up and Nell starts crying, and they calm her down and put her back in her room. They notice a new picture on the wall that was drawn. This one has someone holding a crucifix facing a big fire; someone holding a boom mic, and they’re all cut into pieces; and someone holding a camera, but decapitated. It’s obviously them, and they are a bit shaken up by it. The group prepares to leave with Nell.
Just then, Louis comes back home without Caleb, so we assume he’s still at the hospital. Reverend Marcus tells him about Nell being pregnant. Louis then threatens to kill his daughter when he finds out that she has been defiled by a demon pregnancy. Marcus explains that it was probably just some teen in town, but Louis swears that his daughter is still a virgin.
To keep Louis from shooting his daughter, the reverend agrees to try the exorcism again. They go out into the barn. This time, as he starts the exorcism up again, Nell starts exhibiting weird twitching movements and body contortions. Then, a deeper voiced Nell starts speaking.
“I hear you don’t believe in us,” she says.
The reverend asks who are you.
“I am Abalam,” she responds.
At some point during the back and forth, she asks the reverend, “Would you like a blowing job?”
This clues the reverend into the fact that only a home-schooled girl would call it that, because she hasn’t been exposed to the outside world. He calls Nell out on her bluff and starts yelling at her for being a pregnant 16 year old that needs help. Nell breaks down and starts crying in his arms, collapsed.
The next morning, the reverend explains to Louis that her daughter confessed to her that it was a sweet boy in town named Logan. He works at the market. Logan got her pregnant.
Just as the reverend and the documentary crew are leaving the premises, Pastor Manley and Becky arrive to help out the Sweetzers.
Heading out of town, the three notice the market, so they decide to stop and talk to Logan (Logan Craig Reid). He’s there working that day and decides to sit down with the reverend and talk about Nell. Logan denies ever having sex with Nell. Besides, he’s gay.
This revelation and others cause Reverend Marcus, Iris, and Daniel to hightail it back to the Sweetzer residence. By the time they arrive again, the sun has set. The house is dark as they pull up.
They can’t find anyone inside. When they are back outside, the reverend here’s yelling in the distance. Daniel turns off the camera light, but keeps filming. They approach a clearing with a large bonfire going, as well as people in weird Snuggie-like hoodies.
They spot Nell on a sacrificial type table. Becky, the sweet old fat woman from the church has her hands between Nell’s legs, while Pastor Manley is at the head of the table, doing some cult-like incantations.
The Christian church was a front for a satanic cult. Nell was indeed impregnated by something not of this earth. Louis had felt in his spirit that something wasn’t right about the church (remember he said this earlier about taking Nell out of Sunday school).
Reverend Marcus and the other two spot Louis tied and blind-folded to a pillar or tree. There are a bunch of people wailing and yelling moving around the fire. Nell is screaming in pain, and eventually Becky pulls out a bloody baby-like creature, holds it up in the air, and then proceeds to toss it into the fire. A great whoosh and flame shoots up and forms a very unnatural-like flame that appears to be trying to form into a shape of some sort. Nell is doubled over on the sacrificial table, but you have no idea if she’s dead or alive.
Throughout all of this, both Iris and Daniel are begging the reverend to leave. Grasping his large crucifix, Reverend Marcus rises up. He proceeds to walk toward the bonfire that is shooting up evil-looking flames. The last shot we see of the reverend is of him holding up the cross as he walks toward the demon-like fire.
You then hear someone say something like “Look!” “They have a camera!” “Get them!”
Iris and Daniel take off running. After a bit of scared breathing from them as they know they are running for their lives, the two are caught. We immediately see an axe being raised and lowered on a screaming Iris as she is killed. Daniel then takes off running, and of course all you see are trees and ground, and you hear his heavy breathing.
After what seems like an eternity of running, Daniel stops to try to get his bearings and to see if anyone is following. You then hear a twig snap noise. The camera whirls around. There’s Caleb with a big old bandage on his face. Daniel tries to scream as Caleb swings a large knife across where Daniel’s throat would be. The camera goes black.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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The Christian church that the Sweetzer Family used to attend in town is actually a front for a satanic cult. Nell (Ashley Bell) was indeed impregnated by something not of this earth. Her father (Louis Herthum) had felt in his spirit that something wasn’t right about the church, and he had even pulled Nell out of Sunday school years earlier.
It is assumed that Nell dies from the forced birth of the demonic baby. It is also assumed that Reverend Marcus (Patrick Fabian) dies. We last see him with crucifix in hand, approaching the bonfire where Nell’s demon baby had just been throw into. The 2-member documentary film crew is also killed: Iris (Iris Bahr) is chopped up by a cult member with an axe, and Daniel (Adam Grimes) has his throat slit or is decapitated by Nell’s brother, Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones), who is part of the cult.