‘The Last Exorcism’: Was It Possession… Or Psychology?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 8th, 2012 at 7:09 am,

The Last Exorcism Clips The Last Exorcism: Was It Possession... Or Psychology?


The Last Exorcism is a film that seeks to: Create an exorcism film with a unique voice, challenge its audience to confront their beliefs, and scare the crap out of viewers. The central focus of the film is faith, as it relates to the belief in the presence of evil. We explained The Last Exorcism ending in another article (click on the link to read it), but here we will go much more in depth and give you the answers directly from those involved with creating the movie.

The Last Exorcism takes the stance that there can be no light without darkness, no Heaven without Hell. Producers Eli Roth and Eric Newman seem to represent either side of the faith question; while director Daniel Stamm stands between these two positions as an open minded agnostic.

Eric Newman, who is responsible for producing some of the best genre films in recent years, including Alfonso Cuaron’s incredibly well crafted Children Of Men, had the idea to create a film about an exorcism that was more grounded in reality.

Eli Roth tells us, “It was Eric’s conception several years ago to make a film using the docu-style to tell an exorcism story; following this conception of the exorcism that goes completely wrong. It was Eric who knew to hire Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko to write the film – having seen their film Mail Order Bride which utilized the docu-style so effectively.” Newman also hired director Daniel Stamm to helm the film based on his award winning faux documentary drama­ A Necessary Death.

The docu-style filmmaking was utilized to help support the idea of realism, as well as heighten the fear, by bringing audience into the world of the exorcism. For Stamm, docu-style creates an intimacy with the audience where the camera stands in for us – creating a deeper immersion in the world of the film. The film’s creators wanted to use that immersion to engage the audience in dialectic on matters of faith and science.

The writers used the documentary film Marjoe as inspiration for the film. Marjoe is the story of a minister who allows a documentary crew “behind the curtain and lets you see the whole thing is a fraud.” The film serves as the basis for the character of Cotton Marcus, played by Patrick Fabian. A career evangelical minister who has come up against his “dark night of the soul,” Cotton is a man in the throes of an existential crisis. He comes from a long line of “exorcists” – a practice he now finds both dangerous and destructive. As part of his redemptive process Cotton decides to allow a documentary crew to capture the “tricks of his exorcism trade” on camera, thus exposing the “reality” to the world.

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The film establishes the premise that (according to Cotton’s evangelical ministry) if you believe in God you must also believe in the devil and, subsequently, demons. Therefore to renounce all demon possession as cons, and/or psychological breaks, also in a sense, renounces faith altogether. Fabian believes, “This is a film about how you perceive good and evil. It’s about what your convictions are and if they’ll come through for you when you need them most.”

Cotton’s confrontation with young Nell Sweetzer becomes the outward manifestation of his internal crisis of faith. Director Daniel Stamm says: “Throughout the film, the question is: Is it supernatural or is it human evil? Is Nell schizophrenic or is she possessed?”

During the exorcism sequences, filmmakers specifically stayed away from using any shots that would lock the story into a supernatural explanation. The marketing for the film is a bit misleading in that regard. There are no shots of Nell upside down or twisted on a ceiling in the final film – though these images dominate the marketing materials. In point of fact, Ashley Bell was instructed to “watch every exorcism movie and [then] don’t do that. So it was from the outset to do something really different.”

The Last Exorcism Ashley Bell The Last Exorcism: Was It Possession... Or Psychology?

In preparation for her role as Nell Sweetzer, Ashley Bell was directed to look at both real exorcism documentation as well as psychological disorders that could account for her behavior. She seems to feel that either explanation is plausible. She claims to have “had a book called the invention of hysteria which induced hysterical shocks in women to try and get them out of their human forms. Having those pictures running through my head of real people that are contorted, or don’t look like humans anymore, was really helpful to try to give it that real feel.”

When it came to the exorcism research Bell says, “You are listening to sounds that could be made by humans, and then comes this sound that is neither masculine or feminine, animal or human – it’s just primal. Or not even that, and you just say ‘What is that noise? Where did it come from?’ and it’s very creepy. Even in talking to people who have been around exorcisms, they don’t want to talk about it. They would be nervous to tell me what they had been through and seen because they would be scared it would come back. Or they would be scared to go back there, scared that they were susceptible.”

In keeping with the sense of realism, there was no make-up used on the actors. The contorted positions Ms. Bell creates are thanks to her years of ballet and a naturally double jointed body. Eli Roth feels that, “With the absence of the makeup, and what Ashley does, you think, ‘oh my God, either this girl is possessed or she is truly experiencing a psychotic break.’ But it doesn’t matter because this guy (Cotton) can’t handle either and if he can’t get her to stop – that guy (Luis) is going to shoot her and that’s all there is too it.”

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The dynamic between Cotton and Luis creates the initial tension in the scene. It is this point in the film where, as Roth says, “everyone’s belief in science or religion has clashed and they never see each others point of view and that is what ultimately leads to their downfall.”

The onset of the second exorcism scene felt like the pinnacle moment in the film. For me, one of the film’s greatest opportunities was lost here. Had they built the climax directly from this moment of confrontation between Luis (“faith”) and Cotton (‘science’), with the life of a young woman on the line, the conclusion would have had a greater impact. Both sides of the metaphysical argument, as represented by these men, are equally well intentioned and equally flawed and limited.

I would have loved to have seen the tension ratcheted up to a point where the same tragic conclusion is reached for the documentary crew. Yet the question of cause is far more nuanced. Is it the stubborn hubris of each of these individuals that created the tragedy or was it indeed the hand of evil at play? And what is the difference between the two? The introduction of all the additional characters, as well as the bait and switch with Pastor Manley in the final scene, took away from the gorgeous portrait of this one man facing the external expression of his internal “demons” – at least for me. However listening to Eli Roth’s interpretation of the last scene does add an interesting element to the film’s conclusion – one that wasn’t entirely apparent watching it.

The Last Exorcism Cotton The Last Exorcism: Was It Possession... Or Psychology?

Each of the film’s creators has a different take on the conclusion and final message. Eric Newman says, “I’m not really a believer in exorcism. I believe in psychiatry. I’m spiritual but I generally think that most religions, certainly in their most fundamental forms, are getting it wrong.”

Eli Roth takes the stance of a believer. For him the entire trajectory of the film has been one elaborate test of faith for Cotton. He feels that if, at any time in the process, Cotton and the documentary crew had chosen to believe then their lives would have been spared. That even the theatricality of the “Satanic Ritual” was a device to lure Cotton and the cameras in. The cheese in the mouse trap of destiny as it were.

Roth tells us that the “satanic” chanting in the final sequence is “banana bread, banana bread, banana bread.” As if the cult was somehow aware of Cotton’s “banana bread” sermon and were saying “were going to teach this guy a lesson.” The “banana bread” sermon is one of the film’s best moments, and as Eric Newman says, it is also a great example of Cotton’s hubris, “these are characters that think they are better than these hicks that they are going to grift.” For Cotton, his pride comes before his very hard fall.

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Eli Roth’s take is that “(Nell) is possessed the entire time, and everything Louis says is true, and the whole thing is to teach Cotton a lesson. Even when he picks the letter it is some force that made him choose that letter, to go to this farm, to go do this thing, to test his faith. To see if he truly believes. And he fails at every turn because he thinks he’s smarter than everyone and then finally by the time the demon reveals itself, it’s too late. And then he finds God. But then it’s like – did you find God? That’s a reaction, that’s not true faith.”

When asked whether it was God or Satan conducting this test Roth responded, “That’s the question. Is it God or is it the cult?” Each individual’s take on the film seems to stem directly from their personal belief systems.

When asked if they were concerned about any “real demon activity on the set” Newman commented, “We weren’t making this movie with the studio so it’s very unlikely that any were going to show up.” And that was an eerie feeling in the area post Katrina. “He was never really worried about demons,” Roth countered “I did. I feel like I have a VIP pass to hell after the Hostel films so if we are going to show anything that has to do with Satan we better really, really represent his point of view very fairly.” Give the devil its due as it were.

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One of the most fascinating phenomenons that the film addresses is the rise in the belief in and the occurrence of exorcisms. When asked why they think this is happening at this time in our history Newman responded, “A lot of it is fear based… The greatest human movements have been precipitated by bad s**t happening in the world. And the scarier things get the more people are looking for an explanation that of course doesn’t force them to look inward. And people start to embrace (sometimes for good, sometimes for bad) a different belief. Something that allows them to make sense of what their reality is. In the case of this story, this guy refuses to accept that there might be something wrong with his daughter. There might be something really wrong with his daughter. It’s easier for him to say, ‘we were doing fine until this demon showed up and led her astray.’”

Eli Roth adds, “I think 75 years ago evil had a very clear face. You know, you could say it was Hitler; you could visualize who was evil. Whereas now evil comes in so many forms. It comes in – not just terrorism but in greed on Wall Street and crimes in the schools or even in some churches. There are all kinds of evil and the devil becomes a focal point for that evil. So it becomes: ‘if we can fight that’ then evil overall will go down. But I think it truly comes from this lack of having this one person to pinpoint the evil on and therefore it goes to Satan.”

The Last Exorcism Nell The Last Exorcism: Was It Possession... Or Psychology?

So the question becomes, what is the filmmaker’s stance on the existence and source of evil in our world?

The film purports to pointedly present an “absence of point of view” and agenda on the question of evil and faith. Roth says, “it presents both sides fairly and intelligently and lets them fight it out.” For many filmgoers it is difficult to imagine that the last sequence was not meant to depict some manner of supernatural event. The deaths that occurred were predicted, the fire reacted in an unnatural way, the “demon child” did not physically behave like a human embryo.

As stated, Eli Roth contends that the staginess of the last sequence is in a sense done for the benefit of Cotton, as a part of his “test” of faith. So truly for Roth, and director Daniel Stamm, the question is not if a demon made an appearance. The real question becomes: Will God come in and help Cotton at this point? Or is it too little, too late for his expression of faith?

What did you think of  The Last Exorcism and its ending?

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  1. That is a good point Jeremy. I was thinking it was another *personality* talking. I was of the mental illness leaning for Nell until the end. Then I was just confused.

    • Evil always has had a very clear face. Hitler was not the face of evil (trust a Nazi-obsessed jew to bring up that old chestnut). But there has always also been hidden and devious evil.

      The evil in this film is confused because the makers are variously agnostic, jewish and anti-Christian, and hostile to organised religion.

      The film suggests that exorcists are by definition frauds. That is simply untrue. If the ending is also supposed to be ambiguous, well it certainly was not. This was an ill-conceived and badly made film.

  2. Why would the cult destroy the evil fetus? Could have done without the whole demon birth. Also whats up with the kids note about not leaving her alone with her father?

  3. I rented this from Red Box and I really think they should be reimbursing me my dollar. At first I thought we must have clicked the wrong button and that we were watching directors cuts. Then I thought a good story was going to build off of the angry brother who disappeared after getting his face cut and reappeared at the very end, which barely made sense. I question whether the fther was a part of it or knew nothing of it. That was never answered. I also wonder about the “Blowing job” statement being posession and whether or not an average uninhibited girl could contort like that in the same scene. I think this movie was low budget and made in a few days. The sound was horrible by the way.

    • Okay. Someone had made a point. The brother seemed to be in on the cult. The father was tied up. Obviously the father belived in god and this was all against his will. In the begining the brother said to Cotton “no, it’s not her. it’s him. He’s a crazy drunk”
      Ok. So the town was satanic. Maybe it WAS an abortion. The girl maybe did have psychological problems. Maybe the ritual was a satanic sacrafice. The man was not involved with the rest of the town, so the town was not in on the exorsism.

      I just don’t believe people would get together and make a movie NOT knowing what it’s about. So one producer believes in the supernatural and one does not. But is the movie about a crazy town and a girl with psychological issues about being raped by a satanic pastor, or is it a demon? Of course we as the audience are supposed to make assumptions on what we believe. But I would like to know what the filmakers believe or believed at least what the story was about. I mean, has anybody heard the theory that Hollywood is all satan worshoppers? Is the movie satanic propoganda, showing us that satan won in the end and the crew died and the father was tied up and could do nothing?

      • i agree. a film should have answers, at least at the end so that audiences can be satisfied! hate it when after the film you are scratching your head wondering what was what?! the combination of ?psychological trauma or ? demonic possession becomes confusing. who was she made pregnant by? not explained in the movie! hate all this guessing games! disappointing movie!

    • Way to miss the point of the film entirely….

    • Well apparently since all the town’s people were “devil worshipping” that included the brother too. They wanted the baby to live for their own Evil purposes, so in turn they needed Nell to live. Her father, Luis, ultimately planned to kill Nell. Therefore Nell and Luis should not be in the same room.

  4. ok so i get now the brother was setting them up in a way. and thank you jeremy for pointing out she was speaking in 3rd person. but its true, why did the cult distroy the baby if they didnt believe in god? did anyone else catch the fact that mell said 3 years ago before mama died he asked me if i wanted to ahve sex (i know im missing a few lines im just trying to get the jist of it) but the boy logan said 2 years ago pasture blah blah blah held a party (i know missing lines lol) but mell was only like a few months pregnant.. im so confuesed haha

  5. Personaly I see it as this
    Celeb and the church where demonic cult people (there’s references to cults in the town in early shots of the film when there on their way to the farm)
    With the mixture of her mothers death, isolation from others and most likly rape from her brother (he’s the only person you see) she’s pretty disturbed in the head
    Calebs note of don’t leave her alone with him and the attitude of them helping is his fear of her telling what’s going on – she can’t tell her dad as he’s already so torn up about his wides death)
    The slaughtering of animals etc is again her being disturbed with all the stuff that’s been happening to her – with the slash to Caleb she armed herself and was going to tell the crew what was going on they got in a fight and she attacked him – she’s been acting strange so doesn’t question his version of the story – he must then fill in the pastor on what’s going on
    In terms to the 2 voices in the room and other things like that is rubbish editing there to make it question the audience
    In terms to the final scenes and build up the story she tells about this boy is a rehersed one that she’s been told to say, the boy seems innocent to me BUT why would they tell her to day the exact place where he works – maybe they hoped curiosity would get the better which was why he revealed how the pastor was having parties (plus being gay in a small religious American town ‘in a time warp’ to quote early sceans is a big no, as I said the cult might have hoped he’d get curous and he was in with the cult to lead them back – for all we know (if it was real) there could of been many traps to lure them back.
    Again in early scenes it shows a news article of an exorcism school and cotton now wants to expose it for being a fraud as too many half wits where being taught it rather then like him who’s family has been exersicms for many generations and could do it safely – evil pastor could of learned the same tricks to gain his cult following (the devil will get you if you dont do what I say)
    The very end – I think was an abortion (can you imagine how much that would hurt her having it just cut out of her) the pastor adds all the effects, sound fire etc just like cotton in the erercism, dads tied up against his will because he’s not in cult. The effects where fir his cult and where maybe told to look out for cotton as they could be scared she did tell them about it all or the cameras caught something (him and his wife made lots of references to the camera)
    All what is going on makes the characters react differently (making it additional side story)
    Cotton and his faith in god
    Her having a slight breakdown over what’s going on (I think she began a little screwed up due to what’s happened to her – she wanted to tell but couldn’t – pretended she was then posessed to save them as they had been so good to her – hoping they would leave as she knee they would get hurt if got too close to uncovering the cult – then played alog with whatever she was told to say to make them leave
    Her dad was a guy who’d lost his wife – didn’t know really how to raise the kids – struggling with grief and a blind believer
    Her brother turned to the cult when their mother died and became all evil
    Pastor is cult leader using same effects as cotton
    Then thrown in is some misguided scenes (like her predicting their deaths) as their was conflicting opinions when being made and to have that hmmm was it wasn’t it element

    • did cotton defeat the demon, God should lend him power to defeat the demon. does he overcome it?!

  6. P.s written on my iPhone – it auto changes some words and I could only see the last two lines I’d written as I was writing so couldn’t check it all made sence so if you read some sentaces that don’t look right take the word that looks wrong and change it to something similar

    • Have to say that there is zero doubt that there is supernatural stuff going on. A. Nell traveled 5 miles on foot to their motel room when she would have no clue where they were staying B. She was speaking Latin in the hallway when she has never studied Latin C. She gave specifics in the demon book that Cotton had. She has never seen the book. Those three things coupled with some other vague things make this a possession hands down. I do acknowledge that there are confusing things involving the cult and celeb. Also there are attempts to make people think this could be psychological when there are those three things I listed that make it impossible for it to be just that. That’s where this movies’ deficientices rest and ultamately falls flat in logic. The disscussion of supernatural vs psychological was not well thoughtout and failed miserably in this film.

      • She wasnt posessed. She was messed up from the beginning same as her bro. She was part of the cult “church” before her dad pulled her out. Cotton made a point at the beginning of the film that faith was a powerful mental tool. He demonstrated this with his ‘banana bread’ sermon. He also mentioned that he’d read an article about an autistic boy that was suffocated during an exorcism, implying that exorcisms were actually damaging to the mentally ill patients that really required medical attention. He explained that the purpose for the documentary was to “expose exorcism for the fraud that it really is”. He also explained that he had recurring nightmares of him suffocating his own son. This metaphoric nightmare came true in a way, that his “exorcism” of Nel (who was already mentally unstable) further worsened her condition, as belief is a powerful thing, & furthermore endangered the lives of Nel, the camera crew, & himself. In the end scene, ironically, Cotton himself falls a victim to a fraud. The blazing fire at the end could have easily been fuelled by gasolene, the Pastor put on his own satanic show with the ritual. This is further solidified by the fact the director explained that the chanting at the ceremony was ‘banana bread, banana bread’ etc. It sounded demonic but it wasn’t. So that Cotton, & also the audience get sucked into this belief that the ritual was supernatural & demonic when really the Pastors satanic service was no different to Cotton’s biblical ones…

        • As for Nel a) she culd have walked five miles. Its not impossible. Cotton clearly stated to the father he was going to stay at a motel. Previously when he was looking for the Sweetzer farm he had to ask Caleb for directions illustrating that he was unfamiliar with the area. Logically they would have just pulled up at the nearest Motel considering it was dark when they left the Sweetzer farm so they wouldn’t want to get lost, explaining why Nel picked the right one to turn up at. b) if she was speaking Latin she could have learnt it from the cultlike church she attended. Her father didnt understand latin but then he wasnt apart of the cult. c) Cotton was reading from the book to the father in the house, Nell could have overheard.
          Nel wasn’t posessed, she was slaughtering the cattle, drawing pictures of things she dreamed. She was mentally unstable and damaged by the isolation, the rape & the brainwashing of the cult. She slashed her brothers face open (remember he was apart of the cult) probably in self-defence. She tried to drown the doll in her sleep-like state, representing that she wanted to destroy the ‘demonic’ baby inside her. She practiced in the mirror her crazy facial ecpressions & twisting her neck at an awkward angle, later renacting it in tge barn during the second exorcism. In reality the actress was a ballerina, able to contort her body with no special effects. Yet when you watch the scene as a viewer you believe no girl could do that for real, she’s posessed…

          • But it could be done. Oh & she also had no idea what a ‘blowing job’ was. As for the demonic infants birth, it could have been prematurely induced, remember the blood on the bottom of her nightie, due to her throwing herself around. As viewers we’re led to believe it’s demonic due to Cotton stating ‘that’s inhuman’ yet from the distance he couldn’t see the baby. He was also sucked into believing the ‘banana bread’ satanic service (same as the towns ppl) thanks to the Pastor who has already proven to be a good actor by deceiving the camera crew (& audience). Or Cotton could simply be referring to the ritualistic act itself being inhumane. Nel was slaughtering the cattle from the beginning, & her ‘posessed’ condition was encouraged by Cotton’s fake exorcism. She had been brainwashed by the church. As for her dreams coming true she could well have had psychic premonitions same as Cotton did in the beginning of the film; his recurring nightmare coming true in the sense that he took on the same role as the exorcist in the news article that killed the autistic boy, thanks to Cotton being a fraud &his lack of concern for the victims (remember he merely skims the letter sent to him). Cotton was deceived in the end when he believed the demonic ritual was supernatural, kinda like his karma, as he became part of the captivated audience to the Pastors theatrical satanic service. Believing in demonic forces when the very sermon being chanted was ‘banana bread’ Belief is a powerful thing.

    • None of what you wrote made sense. The spelling wasn’t the problem. Your grammar is pretty bad. Even this, which I’m assuming wasn’t written with your iphone is bad.

  7. He also tells cotton after the boiling water incident that they are good. This shows that Caleb is relieved that cotton is a scam because otherwise he would be scared that a real exorcism might work? This also shows that Caleb is part of the cult

  8. I thought the movie was great! I loved all of it, and have no problem with the ending. I loved the ending. Many state that the movie doesn’t support the ending, but that is not so. It was revealed when the crew arrives at the town, that the town’s people are aware of the cult in the area and, the preacher and crew, along with the viewing audience, are lead to choose to believe that the ppl that were interviewed where full of b.s. It was possession and the cult was in on it. As for why the cult threw the baby/ creature in the fire, well that was part of the ritual. Maybe they did it for the creature to grow in some weird way, I mean come on, we are dealing with demons and it may of had to be baptized in flames or something.
    I also believe do to the for shadowing of the pictures created, that all the crew died. So the pictures were all true, like the animals all the way to the prediction of Cotton burning.
    The movie took a great stance to show is it psyche or possession. I loved the acting and the ending. Sure it may have taken parts from other movies like Cannibal Holocaust, Excorist, Rosemary’s Baby, etc, but that’s what many film makers do these days. I guess ppl aren’t happy because they wanted a different ending, but like I stated earlier, they were told by the towns ppl and they didn’t listen. I just blew them off, but then in the end you gotta say, well…we were warned and didn’t listen.

  9. Ok most of you really don’t get the movie at all. caleb was only worried for the demon child’s well being not his sister’s. when he saw that cotton wasn’t a believer he he backed off because he had nothing to worry about. Thats also why he writes the letter because the father killing nell would save her and vanquish the demon.

    • This is the only excellent analysis I’ve read, yet.

    • Here’s my question to you. Why does everyone think that because they threw the baby into the fire it killed it? It’s a demon, and one that looks pretty damn evil. What if it is a Baptism of some type? And why wouldn’t he just kill his sister if he wanted to kill the demon?

      • There is a Frequently Asked Questions that answers why the demon “baby” was thrown in the fire. It was NOT to kill it. I don’t have the exact words or remember the name of the demon but it was thrown in the fire to bring it to life and mature fully.

        I came into the movie 15 minutes late so did not have the full story behind Cotton which would have been most helpful with watching the rest of the movie. I came in where they stopped to ask Caleb directions and he threw rocks at them after they drove away. The ending was so confusing for me that I had to look up this movie online just to see if I could find some answers about it’s ending. Thankfully I came across this place and first read the FAQ part first then followed the link there that brought me to read the different writers take. It explained what i was looking for. Now I guess I have to invest in Part 2 to see how the rest of the story unfolds and to see if the father, Cotton and Nell actually died in part 1.

  10. Agree with really?
    & benji the movie was awesome ending was nice also tossing the demonic baby into fire was a ritual not to get rid of the demon!!

    • Disagree – Sooo… I don’t believe it was demonic… My explanation is this-
      The brother or the pastor was the “baby-daddy” and as documented by science – incest produces deformed babies (as in not human looking)
      or the pastor couldnt stain his name with a baby outta wed-lock with a minor at that… so either way, the baby had to go. Soo He created this elaborate devil-worship scenario to get rid of the either incestuous kid or evil pastor kid.
      All in all, the movie was great until the END… Very Disappointing End soo final assesment = terrible movie :(

  11. So was she possessed or not? Dang it’s so confusing

  12. So was she possessed? Damn its confusing.

  13. So the whole damn town was in on it except Nell and the dad. Nell was possessed and the baby was a demon. She was impregnated by the pastor.

  14. Great movie, both interesting, and suspenseful. Though confusing, the movie left the audience with the decision to choose what they want to believe. I myself am for the satanic view…but that’s because I want the movie to relate too.

    It’s up to the audience, and I think that’s the intent of the producer.


  15. I’ve done a lot of research and all possession is is pretty much a self inflicted form of schizophrenia. Think about all of the symptoms of schizophrenics, seeing things that aren’t really there, hearing voices that sometimes tell them to hurt themselves or others. It’s a very interesting subject. How about when you watch a really scary movie then afterwords think you hear something or see something that creeps you out. That’s all this is, it is what people experience in churches all over the world. The term “faith” pretty much means to believe in what you cant see or prove and it leads to false beliefs and delusions like what you see in this movie. This is the very reason religion can be a very dangerous thing. People have taken The Bible and interpreted it in a way it was not meant to be interpreted. When it talks about demons its talking about “personal demons”, when it’s talking about heaven and hell it’s talking about peace and suffering. People have just warped the whole topic and turned the topic of demons into the hollywood horror form being what really is. The bottom line is that it is all psychological! Do some research and you will find this to be true. It is a very interesting topic and one I wish people understood more because those suffering from schizophrenia actually experience things like what you see in this movie. I think the girl was part of a cult and became delusional and thats why she led them to that big fire at the end. I don’t think of it as being hell, but as being a mass cult ritual and everyone there was delusional so they attacked the people with the camera. THE END.

    • Explain the demon baby?

    • So faith is believing in what you can’t see or prove but taking “heaven” and “hell” to mean “peace” and “suffering” is not a false belief or a delusion. A believe in the Bible as the Word of God should take it at face value, not changing the meaning of the words written, just like you have.

  16. @bob… How do you know that schizophrenia isn’t just a form of possession? Your beliefs are just stupid. Possession is a real thing.

  17. Well I have been thinking about it…
    To me it seems to be the birth of the devil.
    Look at it this way. Christ was born of a virgin. and his gospel was spread by his 12 apostles.

    this movie to me looked like the devil was born of a virgin (nell) and then baptized by fire.
    I watched over the ending multiple times and counted how many people there are. i counted 12 – 13 people. these could be his “apostles” and the might be spreading the gospel.
    the fire was being manipulated in my mind by the devil.

    well now where does cotton come in all this? I think he regains his faith as he prays. Because this time to me seemed as though he was really praying to god. he went in as though it was his duty to combat the evil he at first was sent out to do. but its to late now a reverend cannot compete with the devil himself. I think that cotton is then killed as Alabam had predicted.

    remember these are just my opinions, so dont go bashing me to hard now -_-
    hopefully im praying there be a sequal :)

  18. btw where did it say that the pastor impregnated her??

  19. and why does everyone think that the demon is dead because they threw it into a fire? ITS A DEMON PEOPLE, Fire should be one of its natural habitats -_-

  20. I was completely on board with this movie the entire time, paying very close attention. I even skipped lunch with friends to watch the ending and was extremely disappointed. The ending is very similar to Rosemary’s Baby. Not original at all, not was it good. I’m glad I didn’t pay any money to watch this. Terrible -_-

  21. In the beginning Cotton explains that the area was full of poverty & illiteracy expressing that a lot of the towns ppl were uneducated, which explains how the towns ppl had been sucked into this cult. When he’s talking to the locals in the beginning of the film they introduce the rumours of a cult being present in their community, a cult that believed in sacrificing human souls to the devil. This could explain why Nel (& her brother) believed she was posessed as they had been brainwashed by the Pastor that Nel’s soul needed to be ‘sacrificed’. Its also why they threw the baby into the fire. The fire was a ritualistic sacrifice. The Pastor was a paedophile who raped Nel & probably others, that’s why he had the party for kids. He & his wife had brainwashed the towns ppl with their crazy satanic services. Remember in the beginning of the film Cotton states that that area of Louisiana was culturally diverse, & had many different religions, voodooism, roman catholocism etc all claiming to be the answer to save you. The Pastors satanic religion was just another example of this. & remember also when the Sweetzers were explaining how the mother died, Nel mentioned that Kaleb started hating God. Thats why he became sucked into this cult. Basically Nel was raped, & brainwashed into believing she was possessed by a demon. She was mentally ill.

    • Ur comments the best on here made me see the film in a whole different light. I was totally confused at times but ur explanation of it was spot on ;)

  22. OK, let me start by stating i’m not just a fan of horror movies and possession shows. I have a familiarity with the esoteric and occult side of this story. I’m familiar with demonology, angelology, mysticism, goetic arts, summoning, invocations, evocations, kabalah, and hermeticism.

    Based on what I saw in the movie the girl did not demonstrate strong enough evidence of any kind of possession to warrant a true exorcism. Much of the evidence against her has already been posted. However, when it comes down to it she did not A. speek in a foreign or ancient language which she COULD NOT have known even a portion of. B. did not demonstrate knowledge of things hidden or unseen, such as what is happening elsewhere in the world or in another room in the house. C. Perform any completely inhuman supernatural feats, i’ve walked 5 miles and one can do five miles walking pretty easily in about an hour and a half. And contortionists can put their bodies into some pretty odd poses. A mentally disturbed patient can do many of the same feats.

    As such if I had been a person who was investigating this particular case in a serious manner from an occult point of view(i am a believer in possession) I would not see sufficient cause to warrant an exorcism.

  23. The movie is basically a cynical critic over a religion INDIVIDUALS that corrupt in a religious institution.

    It is very well based on facts a many religion institution suffers scandals from money corruption, adultery, and same-sex

    This was explained why materialism/money as a motive to serve in Cotton’s priesthood and pastor Manley sex act with under age Nell

    audience can sense the satanic form or presence in the movie but they are not aware that the it is more related to the audience than they could ever know

    well done

  24. I thought the film was all over the place really but was interesting all the same. The ending most definitely let it down big time as up until then especially when they performed the second exorcism it kept my interest or was becoming more interesting. Definitely a film that makes u think all the same as at 2.52am with a child to get up for school in the morning I was so miffed about it I had to look it up on the net. Lol

  25. great :~)

  26. Nobody has stated something very obvious, if I missed the comment already I apologize, BUT what about the drawings that Nell supposedly made, depicting EXACTLY how everyone would die? There is no way the cult could have possibly been 100% sure they could corral the three in such a manner. That would be such an astounding coincidence that to preclude supernatural activity as a reasonable explanation given the unusual activity would not be prudent. Also, if she was impregnated 6 months ago at the pastors party, then why was she not showing at all? How is she able to contort with a baby that size in her? Also, that baby did not look human, I read one comment stating if it was an conception from incest it might cause deformities. Ever see a newborn? They don’t move about like that, and especially not 6 months in. And they also don’t cause fires to have demon like apparitions in them. My conclusion: Demonic Possession and conception to bring forth a devil in the flesh (the baby was not being destroyed it was being baptized in fire, which is the opposite of water).

  27. Either way you feel,i have to say i loved this movie. Towards the end i was on the edge of my seat, great movie!

  28. I have seen the sequel which did not actually say at any point that Cotton had died or lived. However I would like to believe that he could make a comeback in a third movie, it could be said that he was the one that brought Nell to the hospital after the ordeal then faded into silence through the sequel(perhaps nesting to acquire the knowledge needed to overcome the demon). So in the third movie it becomes a good VS evil, Exorcist VS Demon.

    Nothing makes a sequel awesome like returning characters, and better yet, returning actors(familiar faces).