‘The Last Exorcism’ Ending Explained

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 3rd, 2010 at 9:09 am,

last exorcism ending spoilers The Last Exorcism Ending Explained

While we do have a  The Last Exorcism review where you can leave comments, we’ve set up this as a place where you can discuss the Last Exorcism ending and movie spoilers without concerns about ruining the movie for folks who haven’t seen it yet.

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So… the Last Exorcism ending that most everyone who reviews the movie is talking about – how DOES it end?

As mentioned in my review, what the filmmakers attempted to do was to NOT give the audience a definitive answer throughout the movie to the question of whether Nell was actually possessed or going through some severe psychological trauma. That “not knowing” kept the movie interesting – and watching the pseudo-exorcist preacher (named Cotton) start out thinking this was just a case of a mental problem but start to doubt himself as the film went on takes the audience along the same thought process.

At one point during the film we learn that Nell’s father had a falling out with the local town pastor, and that’s why he stopped taking his family to church (he’s also home schooling 15 year old Nell and her teenage brother). Cotton talks to the preacher, who says that it got pretty ugly between him and Nell’s father and that while he knows an excellent pyschologist, he doesn’t believe the father will listen to him.

Cotton talks them both into speaking with each other, and goes back to the house in the woods to perform (supposedly for real this team) another exorcism with the local preacher and his secretary present. Cotton leaves, thinking everything is finally settled, but it’s at this point he and the camera crew discover the boy they thought impregnated Nell is gay.

So at this point, within the last 10 minutes of the film, we’re fairly convinced that her problem stems from a combination of her mother’s recent death and the fact that she was recently raped but has suppressed any memory of it. At first Cotton believes Nell’s father raped her, and then the suspicion falls on the young man in town, but he’s not the guy. Cotton and crew turn around and head back to the house.

When they arrive they find satanic symbols painted all over the walls of the house and no one home – they head out in the dark towards a distant light and they can hear screaming in the distance. When they get there, they come upon what looks like a satanic ritual with a ton of people from town, Nell on her back apparently giving birth to a creature that is not altogether human (she didn’t look the least bit pregnant). It’s revealed that the leader of this occult group and the man who impregnated Nell is, you guessed it, the local town pastor.

The newborn creature is thrown screaming into the fire, which blazes into a huge fireball when this happens – Cotton, seeing all this, seems to try with all his might to regain his faith in God, raises a cross and heads towards the melee. The cameraman and the woman doing the interviewing for the documentary run off terrified into the woods – she is struck down and presumably killed and the cameraman keeps running. Eventually he is cut off by Nell’s brother who decapitates the cameraman, the camera falls to the ground, and the screen goes black.

Continue to find out whether Nell was possessed… or not.

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  1. The Last Exorcism I actually brought the dvd yesterday and i was extremely impress ..
    It actually leaves us understanding that some cases of demon possesed can be psychological disorders but others are due to spiritual attacks to people who probably have engaged in occultism or doubting God…
    The movie is profound and if taken in a analytical way it great ….

  2. I have to agree with the fact that the characters’ actions were not believable. So many times I found myself shouting at them, “Are you stupid? You’re going back to the house? You’re not calling the police? Really?” It was about as bad as “classic” horror movies where people have to go investigate weird noises and refuse to leave a dangerous situation because they have to go back for someone left behind. Maybe I’m a coward, or maybe I just have a great survival instinct. But I can’t believe these characters kept putting themselves into a possibly dangerous and a definitely “something’s not right” situation.
    Otherwise, I found the movie to be decent.

  3. I definitely considered that an ambiguous and idiosyncratic film. It was meant for the audience to have questions after the movie is over. I think the best kind of movie is one that makes you and your friends have an in depth discussion about various opinions on what just went on. Any movie that you leave and you say to yourself, That was a good movie, and thats the end of story, to me that equals a not so great film. I like movies that make you use your reasoning and discernment after it’s over. It’s too bad most people don’t get that and want all the answers provided for them step by step on a blank sheet of paper. Use your brains people!

  4. I just think the ending came from nowhere. I enjoyed the movie and acting thoroughly until the end. If you are observant you will realize too there is no real build up to that ending the writer just kind of throws it in. I felt like the last 5mins of the movie was written by some one else.

    • Hold up, I’m about to rant for a hot second here.

      Wouldn’t Nell and the father think to mention that they left their church because everyone there were satanists?

      …or was it that the whole town worshiped Satan? I mean, unless leaving your church and leaving public schooling usually go hand-in-hand, I’m gonna assume that I’m supposed to assume that the town was only inhabited by Jesus-freaks, secret Satan cults and a gay guy…

      And about the gay dude – scratch that, about the whole lie involving him… did a demon really just use some random kid at a random cafe as a scapegoat to cover up for a rape(that may or may not have been committed by the pastor)?

      ‘Oh, only if that cafe wasn’t on the one road out of town…that demon should’ve known that Cotton and gang were just too cunning to believe Logan had ever had his penis in Nell(what with the gay thing). Cotton ain’t lettin no demon get off that easy.’

      Hold the phone… Consider the cult shenanigans Cotton had almost missed out on. All the demon-chanting, demon-baby-having, demon-baby-killing… whoa, anybody else just catch on that massive kink there? The demon lied to get rid of the people nosing around its’ cult so that the cult could kill the demon baby. Plausible?

      Ahh! But maybe I’m not looking with my ambiguity-seeing-glasses. Because that film crew was basically executed. Easily. So why bother with the clumsy lie (come on, the demon chose probably the one gay kid in that town) when they could just kill ‘em?

      Or maybe the demon counted on them catching on… did Cotton and his ridiculous logic lead him (back) into a trap? Was this trap set to restore Cotton’s faith before he…oh right, we have no idea what happened to him

      I’m leaning towards the demons’ obvious and intense hatred for cameramen. The dudes head just had to come off.

      Either way, the real question that I have is to the point of the whole everything. Why the f*** would the pastor of a Satan-worshiping church (disguised as a normal church) rape a sweet girl (who left said church two years prior), leaving her to black out and smash on some critters while whatever is bakin in her oven does absolutely no growing until the moment it is conceived at a cult-pow-wow (guest list made by Satan)…ONLY to take the thing that has basically ruined the past year or two of a girls life, and throw it in a fire?

      The Last Exorcism = Abomination Abortion
      Because child support is obviously not an option for pastor.

      Unless ‘demon/hybrid’ is on a list of ‘acceptable sacrifices’…


      • It never actually is confirmed that the father or Nell know of the cult. The father took Nell and Caleb out of Sunday school because it had too many non religious influences (not necessarily devil-worship)

        I think it was cotton and the filmmakers fate to die as predicted in Nell’s paintings so no matter the circumstance, they were always going to end up at the house.

        Also, they didn’t just throw the baby in the fire for sh**s and giggles, it was a demon in the form of a baby either being sacrificed to the devil or baptized in the fire. Remember when they run to find the possessed Nell drowning the crying doll in the bath tub? Predicting the baptism it seems or the woman outside Louisiana who mentions the town being full of satanists who make sacrifices to the devil.

        Just sayin’.

        • Quality comment above Sally;
          “Also, they didn’t just throw the baby in the fire for sh**s and giggles” – just to clarify it didnt randomly get tossed onto the fire just for a laugh, lol brilliant :)

  5. starting to think im the only person who didnt like this movie. I know the producers and alot of the people on here say the point of the movie is to show that its not necessarily demonic posession but to make ya think about psychosis or mental instability due to traumatic experiences was the underlying theme here. Well i didnt need this movie to point it out to me. Not too mention the movie wasnt exactly coy in trying to relay this opinion. If that is the case then i feel my intelligence was insulted. Seriously i thought this movie was one of the worst movies ive ever seen. Terribly acted, poorly written and totally unbelieveable.

    • I theory about why they didnt see the footage when she killed the cat – i think she had the camera on (so we had something to watch) but she wasnt recording. If she did mind they would have seen she appeared to be just about to hit Cotton with it. Watched the movie last night and its been playing on my mind all night lol.

  6. In all honesty, I hated this movie. It didn’t answer any questions. I like being able to make my own interpretations to an extent but really?? The biggest issue of the whole movie was completely glossed over. Was she gang-rapedby a bunch of crazy parishioners or was she impregnated by a demon? I also thought the anti-christian sentiment was a bit obvious as well, but maybe that was just my interpretation.

    P.S. what’s with the “demon baby” thing? All I saw was a very bloddy blob that somewhat resembled a HUMAN fetus. She obviously wasn’t even close to full term so it wouldn’t have even been that big, but I figure that could have been a concsious decision by the writers so that it would at least look like a baby.

    This movie left me confused and pissed off. Glad I didn’t pay to go see it at the movies.

  7. Best possission movie i have ever seen is the original… The Exorcist

    • The Exorcism of Emily Rose was pretty good as well.

  8. this movie was horrible. i did not understand the ending, what a waste of time !

  9. I loved this movie, but all loved for all the reasons except that it kept me guessing because it didnt. it was a pretty cut and dry movie, the plot line was easy to pick up and the twists and turns were creative but understandable. The preacher dies in the fire.

    • That is total BS and terrible guess work on your part. That is not at all what happened and to say it’s cut and dry is just plain ignorance.

  10. I watched the movie the other night with 5 other friends and they had no idea. I knew they were going to die right after they saw the prophecy. (when he says “im in the fire…hey, you get your head chopped off. with the art picture on the wall) so the ending was kind of stupid. Major cliff hanger. Possibly there will be anothe movie… say the police find the dead bodies and the camera and look over the whole thing? i dont know but if they make a new movie, they need to make it soon. It was funny at parts too, like when she beats the hell out of that cat with the camera. And when the baby gets tossed in the fire.(my friends and i laughed hysterically)

  11. if i saw this at the movies, it would hae been awesome to hear peoples reaction at the end :)

  12. I thought it was a good movie. If you go back and watch the movie a second time all your questions are answered. She was possessed by the demon, which is baptised through fire at the end, by the demon worshipping town. The picture she paints depicts what happenes to the film crew at the end; sound lady gets chopped up, cameraman gets his head cut off, so the paster is obviously burned in the fire while trying to fight the demon. The birth of a demon on earth results in the apocalopse of man, hence, “The Last Exorcism.”

    All in all, I thought it was a good ending unlike the other exorcism movies where the forces of evil are banished and all is well.

  13. This entire movie was setup to make you want to believe that no demons exist (modern thinking) and that the girl was merely psychologically disturbed. The ending was supposed to shock with the fact that she was truly possessed. The movie misses at this attempt at a “gotcha” moment but does succeed in getting you thinking.

    One of the most telling aspects is the preacher realizing at the end that demons are real … thus realizing (by his own logic) that God must be real and finding his faith.

    The movie is littered with “Sixth Sense” type clues that are realized when looking back and I personally think the “Blair Witch” ending was a disappointment but overall, it was a decent film and by the looks of this and other boards, totally succeeds in its efforts to throw the audience off balance.

  14. Wow. Talk about “sudden death” !
    I have certain question though ,the lady at the gas station talking about a “cult leader feeding human souls to the devil or whatever” , and then cotton asked her cynically about the place where the UFO landed , have u noticed that?
    Was the whole town population Satan worshipers? I mean the ritual crowd was a bit small lol, How did they found the camera? and what’s with the suit that Caleb was wearing , did Cotton restore his faith , if so how come he was holding that “phony” crucifix ?

  15. i thought this movie was veryinteresting at the end it started to come all together. like earlier in the movie when they are interviewing towns people and some say beyond that road is the gates of hell and stuff like that and the lady at the gas station was actually talking about colts but got quickly dismissed when cotton asked after ” and where was the alien sighting” and she pointed it out and he gave a smurk.. movie was well done and kept you guessing which always makes it a fun movie.

  16. There are some typos in this examination. Also, you might of missed when the baby comes out of nell’s whom, the leader yells out ” Atlast, alabam! “. Which is the name of this ” deamon “. I dont think the baby was human, so it couldnt of been the town preacher. The baby was red, and it created some type of fire imagery when burned, i doubt it was the preacher’s baby. Unless the preacher was a deamon, uhmmmmmmmmm.

    • it’s spelled Abalam

  17. after watching the movies.. i had grown interest in exorcism.. and interested to find out wad are those demon usually found in exorcism.. but regarding the new borned creature.. is it for real..? and how can a normal human’s neck got twisted this way..? and is this film real taken by real ppl..? the camera man was dead.. who recover the camera..?

    • “who recovered the camera” …this is the beauty of film production. It seemed real documentary makers, Lol

  18. It was just after reading this article that I was sure Nell was pregnant from the said pastor in her town; if he was a true pastor, he would not get the camera crew dead, though we don’t know what happened next when pastor Cotton approached the satanic fire with the cross in his hand. That let many peoples think there will be a sequel, but I don’t think so due to the way the movie was filmed, moreover the cameraman died…

  19. Small ”maybe” think about it respone(?);
    I reckon Nell was probably raped/had sex at that party that Logan was on about at the priests house during the summer.

    If you look at the scene when they are walking through the church to see the pastor/priest whatever he was (satan guy LOL) You do see symbols in certin areas that match up the the symbols (later in the film) in the farm house!

    I also reckon when Nell was ‘giving birth’, Well in all honety I dont think she was giving brith. I reckon it was more of a abortion; It would explain the amoute of blood and what on earth the security was doing with her hands (Since she looked like she was digging).

    Also! Maybe the reason they threw the demon into the fire is because it will make it more powerful? Otherwise it would not be screaming that much!
    plus there was abit of fireworks going on~
    I reckon Nell didnt die probably just very worn out~

    Mehhh; I think its a different point of view on whats going on…

    • that party that he mentioned happened two years before her pregnancy

    • Didn’t they come to a conclusion that it was Nell’s father who raped her? Maybe it was him that got her pregnant and the baby was demon because of the evil crime he had committed? I don’t understand why it was Nell’s brother that killed the camera crew?

  20. I didn’t like the ending. I thought it was confusing.

    • wasn’t it pretty clear? She was posessed and carrying a demon child, the whole town was in on it aside from the father.

  21. The plot takes a little while to understand because as viewers we only see it from one perspective.
    I’m guessing it was the brother who impregnated Nell with the demon but what I’d like clarification of is where did it come from? Why Nell? and after it is ‘baptised’ by fire, what did it do exactly?
    Also, Logan was gay, that particular church seemed to allow him in just fine…
    What a dodgy congregation though…
    Where did they find all that time to start a fire and draw on the walls? Must’ve been rather a big angry group eh.

    • What do you mean by “Where did they find all that time to start a fire and draw on the walls?” When we see Cotton leaving the farm, it appears to be near noon (based on how bright out it was). When they run into Logan, it is just starting to get dark, and when they finally get back to the farm, it is pitch black out. That means that at least a few hours have passed. Even if it was only one person, that is plenty of time to cover the walls with weird symbols. There were several people there, so for all we know they finished all that “preparation” early and waited around a bit until it was dark to start the ritual…

  22. When he approached the fire he died because in nell’s drawing *earlier in the movie* the crue were chopped and he was burned.

  23. After me and my husband saw this, I walked away wondering if, within the Universe of the story- Cotton was pulling con. We see him in his father’s church office and he seems a little bitter about that- in another scene his wife tells us he’s a film maker, in a phone conversation we learn they have money problems and their health insurance is either being lost or isn’t going to cover the help his son needs.

    It seems to me that with the Supernatural aspects there are more then enough signs that the lead character is in trouble and he is desperate enough to try anything- including making a ‘film’ that could bring him some much needed $$$$$

  24. I don’t think this movie leaves open the possibility of a psychological problem at the end. First of all (and perhaps most importantly): A demon baby. You cannot explain a demon baby through any other means than “she was possessed”. There is no way a psychological problem could produce a physical being, much less one so deformed from what a fetus would look like at any stage of pregnancy.
    Second, she predicted the deaths of the cat as well as that of Cotton and his film crew perfectly, before the deaths happened. Maybe she could have predicted the cats death (since she killed it) but she couldn’t have known that Cotton and the other two would return, and thus couldn’t have known how they would be killed (or even that they would be killed at all).

    I think this film leans heavily towards the supernatural. The first hour and a half, whether it was supernatural or psychological was still open to interpretation, but all that went out the window when they introduced a demon baby into the picture…

    As far as explaining how the rest of the film happened (assuming supernatural causes, since the ending clearly indicates such), I think she was first possessed at the party that the town’s reverend supposedly held (according to Logan). Even if she is home-schooled, she must get some free time, and she could have been at the party. And as far as the reverend claiming to not have seen her in two years, he could just be lying (honestly, he is part of a cult. Not lying probably isn’t high on his list of priorities).
    As far as the demons actions, I think it was to lure Cotton back to the farm to witness the ritual. That, or it was God. Either way, some supernatural force must have known how future events would play out since the girl had visions that correctly predicted Cotton and his film crews deaths. So, since SOMETHING knew Cotton would be there to witness the ritual and how he would react, it is highly likely that his faith was being tested. So, the demon’s actions were merely bait to keep him around long enough.

  25. Beyond the ending’s meaning:

    I think Nell represents the tension between Heaven and Hell. She indefinitely illuminates angelic characteristics, and praises God with faith, along with her father. But she is torn between her society and her dad. The brother has chosen to side with what is easiest for him at a time of shock and distress, because his mother passed away, but his sister seems to be part of both.

    Naturally, she is sweet and kind, acting much like a good Christian that she ought to be. But at the same time she has a split personality of evil. I think the struggle in this movie really is within herself. Sadly, not all movies have a happen ending, so the bad guy wins (the devil).

    The pregnancy seemed to be God’s retribution for her actions, and Satan’s reward. It seems that the baby itself was her possessor, and that Nell had decided to live a life of good faith, but her pregnancy was also her other personality.

    With the mysteries still unanswered, I just viewed this movie in the perspective of purpose and theme. The baby is most definitely a demon, but what demon is it exactly of? After all, the cult does chant its name as the demon that feeds off the innocent. The main character’s changing faith isn’t displayed until the baby has consumed reality.

    So who really is the fountainhead of this movie? It seems its the girl and her baby. And when put into this perspective, one more question comes to my mind. Is this the world of the devil, or is it just another test by God?

  26. ok, the movie was excellent, do not get me wrong, the movie was AMAZING!, but the ending usually makes the movie, so seriously, think about it, this movie would be called a handheld camera mvie i dunno, aits like any movie where one of the actors is holding the camera, so, if you go and look at ALL of the movies that follow this principle e.g cloverfield, blair witch project, quarantine and paranormal activity, all these kinds of movies end exactly the same way, EVERYONE GOOD DIES(or at least the host party who holds the camera, for example:

    blair witch project:
    i watched it a while ago so i cant fully remember the movie but near the end everyone has been killed except two people the main chick and the main guy, the main guy disappears into the basement and the chick follows, she sees him standing in the corner of the room and as you might remember earlier in the movie the story says the murderer stands his victim in the corner of the room and makes them wait while he kills their friend or family, before killing the victim, and the lady carrying the camera dies, so we can assume the man died as well, now at the time i had no quarrel with this, it was the first movie like this that i had seen, so, it just seemed like another scary movie, and i look back and dont like it, for me now it is an great movie with a CRAP ending.

    they manage to escape the monster, a chick and a guy, they both go under a bridge and while they are there they hear a loudspeaker saying “if you can hear this you are in blast zone” then a couple minutes later, after some soppy ending speech by the chick and the guy, they die, i still wasnt bothered by this, again, only the second movie like that i had seen, i assumed ther would be others that didnt end this way, now that i think back to it i dont like blair witch project any more, because of the evreyone dies factor, other than that, GREAT movie.

    there is a lady and man alive at the end, after escaping what seems to be zombies, they just discovered that the main source of the infection was the man living in the room they just escaped to, so they search around and find him, he kills the guy, and after several attacks kills the girl, again, everyone in the main story is dead, now this was the first movie that bothered me, i realised that all the other movies like this had ended like that, still, dont get me wrong, i LOVED every other minute of it.

    and most recent: paranormal activity:
    the chick turns out to be possessed or whatever, and kills the guy in a dramatic ending, great ending, scary as hell, lovecd it, now this was the first one where i realised fully that these movies had no original ending, it was all the same, and so far i am yet to see any movies of this type that are otherwise, so if anyone finds one, PLEASE tell me in the comments here, because i REALLY want to know, the next one i watch like this is truly going to piss me off, these are people who are making hundreds of millions of dollars and are using no imagination whatsoever, i am sick of it.