The Last Exorcism (2010)
Patrick Fabian (Must Love Dogs, 2005)
I've read a lot of articles about The Last Exorcism already, so I'm going to try and not repeat any of those critiques. However, I don't think that will be too hard because nothing I read about The Last Exorcism prepared me for the actually movie, which pleasantly defied expectation.
So what I heard was that this movie was about an exorcist who really doesn't believe in demonic possession and just provides a cathartic performance to superstitious rubes. Of course, in this last case all is not as it seems, and it starts to become difficult to figure out who is playing who, and what are the motivations. I guess you could say it was a twist ending, but it was the clever kind that I like. Looking back, I think the biggest tell was the suffering girl's brother, when he told the preacher that he saw the trick that made it look like the water was miraculously boiling, and that meant the preacher was "alright in my book."
See, he was in on it the whole time. And I know the father was genuinely trying to save his daughter, but I can't decide whether the girl was a willing sacrificial lamb or not. At times it seemed like she genuinely wanted to be saved, but at other times she appeared to be putting on her own "show" of possession, acting like a parody of Regan MacNeil (oblique reference!) and lying intentionally about where she had gone and what she had done. But on the other hand, she had moments of precognition which at first seemed to reveal sinister intent, like a picture of the preacher and his film crew being slaughtered, but may have also served as a warning. Maybe she wanted to protect the exorcisors? This may warrant a second viewing.