The Last Exorcism

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The Last Exorcism
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed byDaniel Stamm
Written by
  • Huck Botko
  • Andrew Gurland
Produced by
CinematographyZoltan Honti
Edited byShilpa Sahi
Music byNathan Barr
Distributed byLionsgate
Release dates
  • June 24, 2010 (2010-06-24) (Los Angeles Film Festival)
  • August 27, 2010 (2010-08-27)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.8 million[2][3]
Box office$67.7 million[3]

The Last Exorcism is a 2010 American found footage supernatural horror film directed by Daniel Stamm. It stars Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Caleb Landry Jones, and Louis Herthum.[4]

After years of performing exorcisms, a disillusioned evangelical minister decides to participate in a documentary chronicling his last exorcism while exposing the fraud of his ministry. After receiving a letter from a farmer asking for help in driving out the devil, he meets the farmer's afflicted daughter.[5][6] The film received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing more than $67 million against a $1.8 million budget.

A sequel, The Last Exorcism Part II, was released on March 1, 2013.


Filmmakers Iris and Daniel document Cotton Marcus, a reverend living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who seeks to delegitimize exorcisms. Marcus, who lost his faith after the birth of his disabled son, is accustomed to performing fake exorcisms on individuals who believe they are possessed. He accepts an exorcism request sent by Louis Sweetzer, a farmer who suspects his daughter Nell is possessed by Satan.

Marcus claims Nell is possessed by Abalam, a powerful demon who defiles the innocent. Conducting the phony exorcism, he convinces her family that he has driven out the demon and leaves, believing he has cured her of a mental state that was misdiagnosed as possession. That night, Nell inexplicably appears in Marcus' motel room, visibly unwell. He takes Nell to the hospital, which concludes that she is in perfect physical condition. He visits Louis's former pastor, Joseph Manley, who informs him that he has not seen Nell for three years. Louis takes Nell home but chains her to the bed after she cuts her brother's face with a knife.

Marcus frees Nell. The hospital calls back to inform that Nell is pregnant. That night, Nell brutally smashes a cat to death in the barn. Iris and Daniel discover her morbid paintings, which depict Marcus before a large flame with a crucifix, Iris dismembered, and Daniel decapitated. Louis insists that Nell is a virgin and has been impregnated by the demon. Offended at Marcus's insistence that a demon is not involved, he demands that the crew leave and alludes to intending to kill Nell. The crew tries to escape with Nell, who attacks Marcus. Marcus offers to attempt a second exorcism as Nell begs her father to kill her.

During the exorcism, Nell manifests into "Abalam" and asks Marcus if he wants a "blowing job.” Marcus challenges that a demon would know the actual name of the sex act and concludes that Nell is not possessed but a disturbed girl. Nell anguishes over losing her virginity to a boy named Logan, which Louis rejects. The crew meets Logan, who explains that he is gay and only had a brief conversation with Nell during a party at Manley's house six months prior; Manley was lying about having not seen Nell. They return to the Sweetzer farmhouse, which they find empty and covered with occult and countercultural symbols on its walls.

In the woods, the group sees a fire and a congregation of hooded cultists led by Manley. Louis is bound, gagged and blindfolded while hooded figures pray around an altar, atop which Nell is bound. She gives birth to an inhuman child. Manley throws the child into the fire, which causes the fire to grow as demonic roars emanate. Marcus, his faith restored, grabs his cross and rushes toward the fire to combat the evil. Iris and Daniel flee but Iris is killed with an axe by the congregation members while Daniel is decapitated by Nell's brother.



The film was slated to be a part of the South by Southwest Film Festival 2010.[19] On February 12, 2010, Lionsgate purchased the rights for the US distribution[20] and pulled the film from the festival. The release of the film was set for August 27, 2010.[21]

The film had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival on June 24, 2010[22] and was here introduced by Eli Roth and Daniel Stamm. Members of the cast were also introduced on stage, Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones, Iris Bahr, and Tony Bentley.[23] The Last Exorcism was the last screened film on August 30, 2010, on the Film4 FrightFest 2010.[24]

Bloody Disgusting hosted the screening of the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International[25] and the second screening on 24 July 2010 is narrated by Eli Roth.[26]

Poster controversy[edit]

In the UK, a poster image for the film which showed a young girl, wearing a blood-spattered dress, bent over backwards below a crucifix, received dozens of complaints that it was "offensive", "distressing", and "unsuitable for public viewing". Two people claimed the girl in the poster seemed to have suffered sexual assault, a complaint which was not upheld. The Advertising Standards Agency decided that the image could not be used on a publicly visible poster since that was an untargeted medium but was acceptable on the back cover of Cineworld magazine.[27][28]

Viral campaign[edit]

The Last Exorcism used Chatroulette as the medium of its viral campaign involving a girl who pretends to unbutton her top seductively, then stops and turns into a monster. At the end, the URL of the film's official website is flashed on screen.[29][30]

Home media[edit]

The Last Exorcism was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 4, 2011. The Blu-ray includes the DVD of the film and a digital copy as well.[31]


Critical reception[edit]

The Last Exorcism has received generally positive reviews from critics, garnering a 72% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 161 reviews and an average rating of 6.17/10. The site's consensus being "It doesn't fully deliver on the chilly promise of its Blair Witch-style premise, but The Last Exorcism offers a surprising number of clever thrills."[32] The film received a 63 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[33] At Yahoo! Movies the film holds a B− based on twelve reviews.[34]

Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and wrote that the film was "An unusually restrained and genuinely eerie little movie perched at the intersection of faith, folklore and female puberty."[35] On the other hand, Joe Neumaier of New York Daily News gave the film 1 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Some of Bell's contortionist tricks aren't nearly as frightening as the best moments in Paranormal Activity. Or, really, some of the better episodes of Scooby-Doo."[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The Last Exorcism opened at #2 at the U.S. box office the weekend of August 27, 2010, behind Takers. It grossed $20,366,613 from 2,874 theaters in its first three days.[36] The Last Exorcism had a budget of $1.8 million.[3] The film remained in the top five, falling to number four in its second weekend. The film went on to gross $41 million domestically and $26.7 million foreign to total $67.7 million worldwide.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2011 People's Choice Award Favorite Horror Movie Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best First Feature Daniel Stamm Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Female Ashley Bell Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Scared-As-Shit Performance Ashley Bell Nominated
Empire Awards Best Horror Won


On August 23, 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that a sequel was in the works.[37] On April 20, 2012, an audition sheet revealed the film's full title as Beginning of the End: The Last Exorcism II.[38] The film was directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly,[37] with Damien Chazelle (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) providing the screenplay.[39] Ashley Bell reprises her role as Nell.[37] On January 2, 2013, the poster for the film was released, revealing the final title to be The Last Exorcism Part II.[40] The film was also produced by Eli Roth.


  1. ^ "The Last Exorcism << British Board of Film Classification". British Board of Film Classification. 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  2. ^ Fritz, Ben (August 26, 2010). "Movie projector: 'Avatar' re-release a wild card as 'Takers' and 'Last Exorcism' debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  3. ^ a b c d The Last Exorcism (2010). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  4. ^ "Lionsgate Plans 'The Last Exorcism' for August". 17 March 2010.
  5. ^ Lionsgate's 'The Last Exorcism' to Premiere at the LA Film Festival. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
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  10. ^ "First Look: First Photo from Eli Roth's Exorcism Film Cotton". 10 November 2009.
  11. ^ "New Vamps Trailer and One-Sheet Lack Bite - Dread Central". 22 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Back-breaking One Sheet Debut For 'The Last Exorcism'! - Bloody Disgusting". 13 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Two New Images: The Last Exorcism - Dread Central". 19 May 2010.
  14. ^ "New Stitches Stills and UK Trailer - Dread Central". 5 October 2012.
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  16. ^ "Viral Marketing Campaign Begins For 'The Last Exorcism' - Bloody Disgusting". 22 June 2010.
  17. ^ "'Cotton' to Be Shown to Sundance, Full Casting Released - Bloody Disgusting". 6 October 2009.
  18. ^ "Snow White and the Huntsman (Blu-ray / DVD) - Dread Central". 17 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Possession at Full Mass in New Hi-Res 'Last Exorcism' Images - Bloody Disgusting". 18 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Lionsgate Acquires US Rights for The Last Exorcism". 14 February 2010.
  21. ^ "New Lovely Molly Commentary Clip and a Look at the Lenticular Packaging - Dread Central". 16 August 2012.
  22. ^ "LA Film Festival Premieres 'The Last Exorcism', Other Genre Fare - Bloody Disgusting". 6 May 2010.
  23. ^ "BC Catches Up With 'Producer' Eli Roth at the 'Last Exorcism' Premiere - Bloody Disgusting". 26 June 2010.
  24. ^ "'Hatchet II' Opens, 'Last Exorcism' Closes Film 4 FrightFest Film Festival! - Bloody Disgusting". 11 June 2010.
  25. ^ "SDCC '10: Bloody Disgusting Hosts Special San Diego Comic-Con Screening of 'The Last Exorcism'! - Bloody Disgusting". 17 July 2010.
  26. ^ "SDCC '10: BD Hosts Special Comic-Con Screening of 'The Last Exorcism'! -- SECOND SCREENING ADDED! - Bloody Disgusting". 21 July 2010.
  27. ^ The Last Exorcism poster banned Archived 2010-11-06 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  28. ^ "ASA Adjudication on Optimum Releasing Ltd - Advertising Standards Authority". Archived from the original on 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  29. ^ Michael Sullivan, 'Last Exorcism' jumps on Chatroulette – Variety, 19 aug. 2010
  30. ^ Adam Rosenberg, The Last Exorcism' Chatroulette Prank Gets The Word Out (NSFW),, 27 aug. 2010
  31. ^ "The Last Exorcism Blu-ray Announced". Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  32. ^ The Last Exorcism Movie Reviews, Pictures. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 15, 2020
  33. ^ The Last Exorcism Reviews, Ratings, Credits. Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  34. ^ The Last Exorcism (2010). Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  35. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (August 26, 2010). "Loosening the Devil's Grip in Louisiana". Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  36. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for August 27–29, 2010. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  37. ^ a b c "The Last Exorcism Sequel Has a Director". 22 January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  38. ^ "Last Exorcism II full title revealed". 2012-04-20. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  39. ^ "The Last Exorcism Sequel Planned". 2011-08-23. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  40. ^ "Poster for The Last Exorcism Part II Revealed". Archived from the original on 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2020-04-28.

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