SPOILER WARNING: Before you read past this point, be warned: This article discusses the end of “The Last Exorcism” in depth, so stop reading if you intend to see the movie and don’t want to know how it ends.
Director Daniel Stamm’s mock documentary concludes on an open-ended note. As predicted earlier in the film by Nell’s (Ashley Bell) paintings, the cinematographer gets his head chopped off, the producer is hacked to pieces and the preacher, Cotton (Patrick Fabian), his faith seemingly restored, walks into the flame to ward off Hell, his cross held high and his ultimate fate left unclear. That ending has spurred quite a bit of discussion among many who have seen it.
MTV News talked to Stamm about that response and his reaction to it. “I don’t mind the passion that the discussion has spurred,” he said. “I’m getting threats now, which is a whole new thing for me. People are [tweeting] me, telling me to jump headfirst off the Empire State Building, really hateful [comments], which I can only take as a compliment. Which movie do you care about so much that you get so hateful and so passionate about it?”
Of the dialogue that’s sprung up, the director admits that he understands where the dissenters are coming from. “I think that a lot of the people that are upset by the movie [feel] that they are paying for you to enlighten their world a little bit with an answer about what’s going on around them,” he said. “They want a statement that is clear. That is a very legitimate position to me, but that is not what the movie does. The movie leaves you with a question. And it was very true to the format of the documentary style that you don’t understand everything.”
By “staying true to the documentary style,” Stamm is referring specifically to the death of the camera operator in the film’s final scene. “Yes, it’s abrupt, because your point of view is gone, you’ll never find out what happened after that. There is no scene that neatly ties it all together and explains it all to you because that’s not how it would go down. I think the rest of the movie is naturalistic enough … that it would be a complete betrayal of the movie [to tie things together].”
He appreciates that the film’s conclusion has a very definable impact on the scale of the story, from an intimate gathering of concerned individuals and one troubled little girl to a community full of Devil-worshipping Satanists. “I understand that people are maybe overwhelmed by the openness of the ending, but at the same time … I can’t think of a different ending to this movie. I think it completely does it justice and I think it does the characters justice.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Last Exorcism.”
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