The Last Exorcism


Written by Sarah Smith
06 Monday 06th September 2010

We meet the morning after finding out their film was number one in the U.S box office. Made for less than $2 million, the film had just grossed over $20 million in its opening weekend. “We were able to pay for it before we even started shooting. Our marketing budget was only $20 million, so if the movie had made 20 million in total that would have been a home run. To do that opening weekend was shocking. But the film is that good it deserves it, and I’m so pleased for everyone involved with it", said Roth. He isn’t new to big profit, his first feature Cabin Fever cost just $1.5 million and grossed over $20 million in the States alone.

There’s no mistaking that a large part of the film’s success is down to having Roth as the producer. Barely known eight years ago, he can now lay claim to being at the top of the horror movie league. Asked whether it was frustrating having someone else direct he replied, “I’ve got more ideas in my head than I could ever produce… and that’s the great thing about producing, you can cast who you want to be the director. It’s a pleasure and a joy to be there as a resource, like Quentin Tarantino was for me, he didn’t go on set and neither did I.”

One of the appeals of the movie is that it could be a really interesting straight documentary without the supernatural element. “Because the cameraman actually exists in the film and represents the audience it forces the audience into an intimacy with what’s going on that may be uncomfortable. And I think for a horror movie that’s brilliant, when you get the audience closer than they would ever want to be… the extreme close-up we’re doing in documentary style, we’re in people’s faces much more and that helps with the intensity”, explains Stamm.

Despite the poster and Roth’s involvement The Last Exorcism isn’t two hours of pointless torture. “There’s a really strong appetite for – and people want to watch – good, smart entertainment with no big special effects”, said Roth.

“The film is about faith, the role faith plays in your life and what it does to you, how it can help you and how it can destroy you. I think human evil is terrifying because it stays with you after you leave the theatre. The realm of the supernatural is something you experience in the theatre, and then you walk outside and you’re not confronted with it anymore. That’s why I like the film, because you don’t know if Nell is schizophrenic or not so we spend a lot of time in the psychological realm.”

The clash between science and religion is a huge topic but by treating Cotton’s loss of faith as a confession that is then played out but as a film it remains neutral, failing to offend religious test audiences even in the States. Roth and Stamm both admit that it’s the abrupt and ambiguous ending that will divide audiences but being a low budget film they both agreed that it gave them the power to make that choice.

“I’m sure there are a lot of families like the Sweetzers out there… and exorcism isn’t something that died in the middle ages, it still happens today. And that’s because there still are these problems that people can’t deal with and they’re looking for solutions” said Stamm.

We’ve got a signed poster and a limited edition t-shirt you can win! To be in for a chance of bagging yourself this amazing prize just answer this very simple question:

Which of these horror films did producer Eli Roth write and direct?

1. The Crazies
2. Hostel
3. Saw

The Last Exorcism is out now.

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