The Last Exorcism
More a sketch of an idea for a horror movie than a fully formed film "The Last Exorcism" is a yawn-inducing attempt to cash in on a combination of exhausted genre tropes. Following in the shaky-cam, found-footage, footsteps of "The Blair Witch Project," Daniel Stamm directs an incompetent script about Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). Cotton is a religious fraud engaged in carrying on his family's well-established business of conducting exorcisms for illiterate backwoods types who traditionally respond well to the power of material-supported suggestion. An evangelical magician/con man, Cotton takes along a couple of documentarians--the cameraman is never shown but the annoying sound girl (Iris Bahr) can't keep her mouth shut--to record his experiences as a way of coming clean about his dicey religious practices. The trio go on a road trip to rural Louisiana where Louis Sweetzer, a fundamentalist farmer, believes his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) is possessed and is responsible for killing their livestock in the dead of night. Home-schooled Nell turns out to be quite a contortionist when the opportunity presents itself, and her freaky brother Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) is just as threatening as their dad turns out to be. Riddled with poor lighting, inappropriate use of music, and a plot you could fit in a tea cup, "The Last Exorcism" has all the appeal of a glorified, but poorly shot, student film.
Rated PG-13. 90 mins. (D) (One Star - out of five/no halves)
"I don't pole-dance for nothing." That's what one of "Piranha 3D's" many frequently topless beauties says before climbing onto a rope that hovers four-feet above the surface of water teeming with frenzied prehistoric toothy fishes. It also expresses the irreverent tone for one of the most gleefully gory horror movies of all time. Director Alexandre Aja's update of Joe Dante's notorious 1978 film (written by John Sayles) packs in exposed boobies and dismembered bodies like a 50-gallon aquarium stuffed with maraschino cherries. The plot mirrors "Jaws" with an opening-scene watery death that presages torment for a Spring Break vacation hot spot. Lake Victoria, Arizona (a.k.a. Lake Havasu) is the partying ground for a slew of horny college students whose busty females can't get enough of sharing their boobs with every male in site. Jerry O'Connell is a "Girls-Gone-Wild"-inspired pornographer who entices Jake Forester (Steven McQueen), the son of the local sheriff (Elisabeth Shue), to work as a location scout for the day's filming of nude-beauty shenanigans. The film's centerpiece is a shallow-water attack by thousands of hungry piranhas on hundreds of unsuspecting revelers. Aja ("High Tension") ramps up the tension and gore to a fever pitch before sprinkling in a hearty dose of gross-out humor involving a severed penis. "Piranha 3D" is a tongue-in-cheek gore fest that's not for the faint-of-heart or for the easily-offended.
Rated R. 89 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)