In the last 10 minutes, the ending seems to completely unravel what was established in the prior hour and a half, implying that the supernatural was indeed at work, and makes the ludicrous assumption not only that the town preacher is actually a satan worshipper, but that the entire church body is as well – and in on the conception and birth of some demon creature.
Of course the question the audience is left with is: Was Nell really possessed or was it all an elaborate psychological issue? Well here’s the problem… there were different points of view about what was really happening between those involved in the film, so it’s going to be (mostly) open to interpretation by the audience. The idea behind the film (up until the final scenes) was to present everything that happened in as neutral a way as possible, so that two people could look at the same movie and one would say it was possession while the other would say it’s psychological.
However the ending, while apparently meant to also be ambiguous or open-ended, obviously leans toward the demonic possession side of the equation. The birth of a child/creature that is clearly alive although Nell is so early in her pregnancy that it’s not even remotely apparent that she’s pregnant points to it being non-human. There have also been descriptions from those involved in the film that the “baby” had “spikes” protruding from it – obviously not a super-early term embryo/fetus/baby. Finally the massive expansion of the fire when the creature is thrown into it – all these things point to a supernatural occurrence – which was NOT the intention of the filmmakers.
Actually what the real question is that we were supposed to walk away with from the film was this: When Cotton raises his crucifix and walks toward the cultists and the raging ball of fire, will God help him because he has found his recently lost faith? Or will God turn his back on Cotton for falling away in the first place.
Still have doubts? If you want an answer directly from the director, producer and cast of the film read our interview with them here:
Give The Last Exorcism your own rating right here: The Last Exorcism: Was It Possession… Or Psychology?