‘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.

If you’re posting comments here, assume that anyone in the conversation has seen the movie – if you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend you don’t read the comments here until you have. icon smile The Last Exorcism Ending Explained

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. you see Nell was a virgin, and she gave birth to the anti Christ. the pastor was not the father, only there to welcome the child to the world. So if ya want to know what happens next. Watch the omen

    • I love the omen it’s a good movie but my mum absolutely hates it haha

  2. Its not even up for debate. It was supernatural. Why would the priest and everyone else decide to have a SATANIC ritual if the girl was crazy? Unless the whole town was psychologically tortured.. Not every movie is open to interpretation!

  3. Yes, kofi outlaw!

    Also, I’m waaay late.

  4. Yes, kofi outlaw!
    Also, I’m waaay late.

  5. I think that the idea of it being just psycologiical is kind of selling the movie short because people with psycological problems have a very strong belief structures in most cases. Like if a narcsisit believed that he was a space man or an angel. Those types of people that have a mental illness, and are in the state of distubance, They really can do what Nell did by breaking her figers while counting the ten seconds out. Also there are perfectly sane people who believe in the creator so much that they feel healed and all that stuff that go along with it. Like the preacher in the movie suggested. I am sure that in a logical world most people whose child is born early and a miracle happens and the child life and you don’t thank God and you thank the Doctor instead. That really has nothing to do with faith at all. That is Fate actually. People use that as a negative term fate, when it can be used for both positive and negative. Anyhow psyco or possessed I think that Nell was alittle of both. She was possessed by the thought that she had a demon inside her, mainly cause her father may have said it from time to time being a southern christian you hear those types of terms. Also she was pregnant which has an affect on a young 16 year old, especially after being possibly raped. In which most cases of any possession for a young christian girl was an answer for the bizaar behavior of a person with no history of drug abuse, or anything like that. Plus with her mom dying just adds to the trama. Anyhow that’s my conclusion, and as for believing in the devil or demons, well I do believe in God, and we wouldn’t need him to protect us if there was not satan now would we. Loved the movie looking forward to the second one.


  6. I just want to know who got Nell pregenant? I’m extremely confused by the ending of the film, although the above comments do give me insight of possible reasons as to why it ended the way it did.

  7. Too anyone confused about how nell got knocked up well it’s simple. Like God the devil obviously having simular powers placed a seed in the belly of the virgin nell. “Like God”. And I have read some ideas that she was giving birth to the anti christ, I don’t think that is true I think it was just a deamon of some sort. In any case the movie was left open ended for a reason so I would think to watch for a sequal or a prelude of some sort. Also it would be good to brush up on a little bible study before proceeding with the watching of this movie. Particular chapters like matthew, mark, and luke. Then revelations. Jesse

  8. Nell’s brother, being an occult member, is the father of the baby. Little Nicky came out with inbred features, thus they had to through him into the fire to purge him of his imperfections. Let not forget, which I agree with Jess, her father telling her she has a demon inside her (not knowing she’s pregenant) couldn’t have been much of a moral/self image booster. Now,wouldn’t this make any 15 year old christen, virgin go mad.

    • First there is a lot of talk about in breeding and incest throughout the whole movie and if anyone one thinks that a brother knocking up a sister will give the child “inbred features” think again. That’s sterio typing. Inbred features only happen after many years of sister and brother and father and daughter stuff take place. Meaning brother and sister have child then after child is born and if it was a girl the father would have child with it, or if it was a boy mother would have a child with it, and so on. Not after one pregnacy. Also if Nell wasn’t a virgin who would have knocked her up, plus there was a few years between the mother dying and that, and 9 months in a real pregnacy.

  9. I wasn’t going to bother, but I’m compelled to post a comment as many people are confused by what seems to be straight-forward to me (maybe I’m wrong?). BUT, the ending seems to be all about this: the truth is out – the possession is real. At the end you hear the poser-pastor yell “Hail Abalam” providing that the shiny red thing whether it was a demon baby or whatever was in fact the demon. The fact that so many people are at the occult ceremony points out that ALL those people were in on it, even Nell’s brother which might explain his early hostility at a REAL exorcism (remember when he noticed Cotton faking some early exorcism stuff he was ok with Cotton – he knew there was no chance of a real exorcism harming or removing the demon). Just for clarification my guess is the father was not in on it seeing as he was tied up. When Cotton runs out to battle Abalam at the end I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish (he says Abalam can’t ‘have’ the girl so she was going to be re-possessed i guess?). Other than that, i really liked the movie – great story and makes more sense and more enjoyable than most exorcism/possession movies. Sucks that Cotton is dead, he was a great character, and can’t wait for the sequel.

    • Nell drew three pictures: The pasture burning, the girl being chopped into multiple pieces, and the man being beheaded. She also drew the cat in a bloody mess.

      The last scene the pasture goes running, cross in hand, to the burning pyre, the woman is mutilated by an axe, and the man is seemingly beheaded. The cat was likewise mutilated.

      This was never supposed to leave you wondering whether this was natural or supernatural, it was always supposed to be evidence that she was possessed.

    • That would explain why he wrote that note saying don’t leave her alone with him, referring to Nell and her father, but why would she have cut his face? Maybe to make cotton and the camera crew think that the dad was raping her?

  10. This is so confusing. So clearly the brother was in on it. That would explain why he was so mad that cotton and the camera crew was there and why he was ok when he realized they were doing a fake exorcism and why he decapitated the camera man at the end. But why did Nell slice his face open? Were they doing it to get rid of the father so they could make cotton and the camera crew believe that Nells dad was raping her? Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in Part II- coming March 1st, It looks great:)

  11. There is a part 2 of the last exorcism coming out in 2013

  12. She was possessed because what’s with the bed shaking and her drawing pictures of things that later in the movie happen exactly as she drew them. The cult wouldn’t have three her a satanic party if they weren’t sure she was possesed. And watch the preview for the part 2 movie the demon comes back so obviously there was a demon to begin with. Cotton didn’t really believe in the whole exorsism thing to begin with.

  13. Also it is just a movie and movies aren’t real. Lies and made up stuff get shown on them all the time. Next thing you know people will think gotham city is a real place, and spider man and iron man are real. Fact is this movie just set itself up for it’s sequel. That is why it has so many unanswered questions. No one makes a part 2 to a movie for no reason, and no one makes a part 2 to a movie unless the first one leaves unanswered questions. So let’s watch the second movie and we can all come back and question its ending as well, with sterio types and references to other movies of no relation. Hell let’s just question weather life is really just a movie and the movies are real life. Wouldn’t that be fresh. Watch out pot heads that was just an observation not a reality check. The ending was left for us to believe something entirely different from the omen and paranormal BS that really go on.

  14. Why is no one discussing how the squealing little red monster embryo sprouts immediately in a 20 foot monster that is roaring like a dinosaur might sound. The huge fire obscures the huge demon as does the whirling camera. But if you listen or play the seen very slowly you’ll vaguely recognize a mighty demon that resembles the king kong sized demon that Gamdolf died fighting in the first or second Lord of the Rings movie.
    Why is it that people are so concerned with appearing intellectual that they are even willing to ignore the supernatural in a horror movie.
    I was watching 60 minutes or 20/20 once with a close friend from Africa. The show was about supposed real exorcisms. There was Hispanic girl in New York City on film hissing and writhing in front of a priest. The narrator said that there was an African spirit in the girl. My friend informed me that the girl was saying “get away from me you dog” in fluent Swahili, an east-African language.

  15. now that part 2 is out, can i start calling part 1 ‘the second to last exorcism?”

  16. Part two makes no sense and leaves you with more questions than part one did. You never understad what is going on in both of the movies. Good luck trying to figure this whole thing out. I’m as lost as everyone else.

  17. Part two makes no sense and leaves you with more questions than part one did. You never understad what is going on in both of the movies. Good luck trying to figure this whole thing out. I’m as lost as everyone else..

  18. I just hope that you people can meet christ someday. Want to know the explanation of this film?? well… ask him, he knows every little thing. I think people shouldn´t expend time watching and talking about this kind of movies. All i can say is, get out of your houses and walk towards the closest church in your town, you won’t regret.

  19. ok from what i understand.. nell is possessed… her brother and some of the town peoples are involve in the devil worshiping n stuff except for her father as he clearly know something was wrong with his daughter… he seek help from cotton for exorcism and nell brother unhappy about it obviously at first but then as he know cotton fake the exorcism he was fine with it.. the story was all ok but the ending not so much.. left me hanging for a bit.. i hope for a more clearer explanation.. i still want to know what happen to cotton, nell and the girl father louis.. is cotton really dead?? or the pic of him with the fire just an image of him fighting the demons.. and i guess the tape that the cameraman have is destroyed n no one will ever know?? hmmmm…

  20. They were all a bunch of nut jobs and the baby was a product of inbreeding!!!!!

  21. I personally think that while Caleb, her brother, was possessed, he raped Nell, and impregnated her. I have a few points to support that: maybe Caleb had been raping Nell in Sunday School, which is why Louis wanted her to not go there anymore. There’s also the reaction of Louis when Cotton says she is pregnant and that maybe Louis raped her. At first you think he obviously did it, but there’s a truth when he says she’s definitely a 16 year old virgin, and that the demon must’ve devoured her (Caleb being the demon, assuming he was possessed). Plus, if he was the one who impregnated her, why would they tie him up and make him watch, etc.? Also, the reason Nell scratches Calebs face might be because she was either possessed, or, she was getting back at him for impregnating her. The story Nell told them all about how she had sex was probably psychologically implanted into her by the cult, so that she wouldn’t tell the truth, and the crew couldn’t find out Caleb had done it. And finally, the child is obviously not human, as you pointed out. Then, it makes sense that it’s not human, since it was the demon inside Caleb that raped her.

    I dunno, that’s my interpretation. It was also interesting to see how Cotton saw it all as a hoax and used sfx to create the image that he was performed an exorcism, then later it all escalating to her actually needing some kind of spiritual help. Which is also maybe why Cotton fights against the demon in the fire, as he has realized that demons are indeed real, and he needs to actually help Nell, not just use some smoke in a crucifix to make the exorcism look real.

    Glad to see other points of views too, shows that a movie really can have many interpretations and sides to it :)

  22. For everyone who is confused as to who got Nell pregnant; I assume you werent paying attention through out the film. It was stated that this Demon, “Abalam” is known for possesising the innocent, and those possessed end up pregnant. Nell’s father then said towards the end of the film, “You were right. The book was right. This demon f*cked my daughter.”

  23. During the first half of the movie I felt happy for Nell, she really deserved to get away and live a normal life. But you all know there was nothing good planned for her, so let the scary s*** BEGIN! The predictable pop out scenes still had some good effect, especially whatever creepy thing was in those damn bushes. But when they changed directions halfway through the movie, they certainly loss momentum, ending in a screeching hault with that last scene. I think they did alright with her choosing life with Abalam instead of death, but it would of worked out better if Cotton would of slammed a car into her as she drove off and started to exercise that b****.

  24. My wife and I watched this last evening. I agree that it is up to individual interpretation as to whether or not Nell was possessed. However, I seem to remember her bending over almost complete backwards and contorting into all kinds of strange shapes like some sort of demon pretzel. Despite the ending bordering on “hokey”, I am firmly in the camp of her having been possessed.

  25. At the late beginning of the movie Cotton was talking on the motel phone with his wife and asked her ” who is Cassandra” is that a random scene or does it have a hidden object into it ? I tried to find out my searching here and there on what Cassandra means in the bible and ascent Greece, but no use …

  26. now that part 2 is out everyone can reflect on their, way off, and far off assumptions. yater back and forth can stop, because it has all now been explained!!!!

  27. I seen both movies… this movie reminds me of “Rose Mary’s Baby”

    I think Nell and her dad didn’t realize the church they went too had demon worship folks. I think the church itself could be a true cover up for the demon church. Nell and her dad were innocent that they didn’t know what was going on.

    I think Nell went to the party run by the church pastor and someone knocked out Nell or spiked Nell drink and sent her to a room and did Demon things and Nell got pregnant but has no memory of what happened. I think someone must have said she had a baby with Logan before marriage and it was a sin, to make her feel like she was a dirty sinful girl and she wasn’t.

    I think the church might have had something to do with Nell’s mother’s death. Get rid of the mother and then the father and poor Nell doesn’t have any protection.

    I think Cotton should have listen to his group and they would be still alive. Thou I didn’t see Cotton die just his group thou.

    Nell’s baby sounded demonic and she didn’t even look pregnant…