Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Toronto After Dark Film Festival Fun!

brought to you by Black Glove reporter Jason Shayer


The movie starts slowly, but it’s Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) that wins you over and really pulls you into the story. Patrick Fabian is warm and charming and charismatic. He plays a bible-thumping preacher who’s had a revelation and is tired of milking money from naive God-fearing people.

He takes a film crew along with him to an exorcism in hopes of revealing how much of a sham exorcisms actually are. And again, while it starts slow, there’s a dread that builds up inside you knowing that something will go wrong and you’re never exactly sure what that is. It’s that uncertainty that’s maintained throughout the film and it delivers a strong, uncomfortable feeling.

The setting on a farm in the backwoods of Baton Rouge is effective in giving you a sense of isolation. The film builds nicely towards a rushed and frantic climax. The camera work (filmed in a documentary style), which I had initially thought would be tiring, is well done. There are a few scenes where the camera’s limited point-of-view is perfect for increasing the tension. The score keeps pace, helping to set that disturbing and uncomfortable environment.

The ending feels a bit like it came out of nowhere and I would have liked to have seen more hints and foreshadowing. But, it forces you to go over what you’ve just witnessed with a different perspective. And yes, it's derivative of similar genre films like The Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, and Rosemary's baby, but I feel it really worked.

After the screening, Eli Roth, Patrick Fabian, and Ashley Bell were available for a brief Q&A session. Eli Roth acknowledged the debt he owed to The Exorcist and how it had scared him shitless as a kid. And this was despite the fact that his mother had reminded him that they were Jewish and didn’t believe in any of that stuff.

The exorcisms showcased the acting talents of Ashley Bell starring as the deeply-troubled young woman Nell, whose father believed her to be possessed. No makeup or special FX were used during these scenes and Bell apparently came up with the backbends and contortions that had even co-star Patrick Fabian scared.

There’s no sequel in plan (for now). As Roth said: “It’s The Last Exorcism, not The Second-Last Exorcism”.

The Last Exorcist is a genuinely creepy film and delivers highly charged scenes with jaw-clenching tension and heart-stopping scares.


Can a film that’s so bad actually be so good? If that makes any sense, then Alien vs. Ninja would be that film. From its cheesy acting to bad rubber monster suits with dangling strings of saliva to its wheelbarrows of bloodied fake limbs thrown about, it’s all there in its campy glory.

The movie pulled in the audience and its participation was infectious as I found myself clapping and cheering. Alien vs. Ninja was the late show and I had been up since 6am and was looking for any excuse to call it a night. Just after the opening scene, there’s a few moments of relative calm where the plot is allowed to show itself temporarily and that was almost where I bailed. But I’m glad I didn’t.

Each scene after that was more and more outrageous. I was glued to my seat and couldn’t leave. I needed to know how the damn thing was going to end and how they were going to pull it off. I wasn’t sure if I was laughing out loud at its campiness or laughing at myself for sitting through the entire film. The film didn’t disappoint and had me exiting the Bloor Cinema with a grin on my face.

--Jason Shayer
(Thanks again goes to ace-reporter, Jason Shayer, for this time and efforts on our behalf at The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010.)