Monday Morning Quarterback
By BOP Staff
August 30, 2010
The Last and Final Exorcism DestinationKim Hollis: The Last Exorcism, the Final Fantasy XIII of movie titles, opened to $20.4 million. What do you think of this performance? Will viewers just go see anything with "exorcism" in the title?
Josh Spiegel: Considering the apparently toxic word-of mouth the movie is getting (I don't usually put much stock in CinemaScore ratings, but this movie has a D, which is bad even by that company's standards) and the low, low budget, Lionsgate is, I'm sure, dancing in the streets. They've been making solid but low-budget performers for a few years, and it continues to pay off. One day, maybe they'll make movies people like, but for now, I bet they'll be happy taking teenagers' money.
Matthew Huntley: Interesting theory, Kim. Indeed "exorcism" has become a tried-and-true word when it comes to successful horror movies. In a way, it guarantees at least one of the following: contortion bodies, demon voices, blood, vomit and/or mysteries surrounding the church/Bible. Oh, and there's usually a helpless, virginal girl in a white nightgown breaking out into sweat and clenching her fists, usually in a creepy place like a barn. Why do moviegoers consistently flock to movies of this type? I think it's simple: after The Exorcist (1973), people are hoping a similar movie will come along that's just as effective and scary (we all know this doesn't just apply to "exorcism" movies, either, but to hundreds of other titles/genres). What many don't realize, though, is you can't relive a one-of-a-kind experience, which many would agree The Exorcist was. That's what makes it one-of-a-kind. Thus, it should be the challenge and goal of modern filmmakers to create a one-of-a-kind experience instead of merely imitating the great works of the past. I know it's hard, but can you imagine making a movie that sets such a high standard that the mere inclusion of the same word in subsequent titles urges people to see them? William Friedkin must be honored.
Jason Lee: Like it or not, I think that Eli Roth had a lot to do with the success of this film. Between Cabin Fever, the Hostel films and his relationship with Tarantino, I think he's a pretty well known commodity among people who would be actively interested in seeing something like The Last Exorcism. Put his name down as producer and you've got a draw.
Bruce Hall: Matt, you took the words right out of my mouth. Even my mother called me yesterday, thinking that this was a sequel to The Exorcist and wanting to know not only if I'd seen it, but if I understood that only God can defeat the Devil. I do think a lot of people were confused, and found themselves expecting something other than what they received. The poor word-of-mouth seems to suggest that most of them didn't appreciate the bait and switch, whether it was intentional or not. The Last Exorcism takes something of a "Blair Witch" slant on the genre and while I suspect the filmmakers felt they were breaking new ground in that regard, what they accomplished was closer to a cinematic Taco Bell - they found yet another way to mix the same handful of ingredients served up by the most successful horror titles in recent memory. The unfortunate thing about this film is the wasted opportunity. Whatever we believe individually, there are without a doubt forces in this universe yet to be understood and the possibility of coming into contact with them is what usually drives the very best of science fiction and horror. The idea of a doubting priest alienated from his faith is hardly new, but the concept of a cynical huckster potentially re-energizing his belief by biting off more than he can chew is definitely intriguing. But in falling back on well worn, secondhand ideas as a crutch The Last Exorcism hits wide of the mark. Maybe I'm over analyzing here because all things considered this was without question a successful opening. But I don't blame even the least discriminating of moviegoers for feeling cheated by this one, and I question the kind of longevity this movie will have.