“What I want to do is expose exorcism for the scam that it really is, and that’s why we’re doing this. So if I can help expose it for what it really is and save one kid from having a plastic bag wrapped around his face, that sounds like God’s work.”
– Reverend Cotton Marcus
Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) has lost his faith after his son is born ill. He performs exorcisms on “possessed” people, though he knows he is marketing a lie. He participates in a documentary in which exorcisms will be shown to be fraudulent, and expose many trusted clergymen. He works with Iris Reisen (Iris Bahr) and her cameraman Daniel Moskowitz (Adam Grimes). Choosing a letter requesting an exorcism at random, the crew sets out to see farmer Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum). He is sure that his daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell), is responsible for slaughtering his livestock, and is sure that she is possessed.
The team goes to investigate, and Cotton quickly slaps together his fake exorcism, showing for kicks how he can make the family truly believe that there is something wrong with a family member as well as thank him for saving the soul of whoever was afflicted. Marcus makes the claim that it is a demon named Abalam that has taken possession of Nell’s soul, and that he can make it right. Louis’s son Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) is incredibly hostile to the crew, and seems to just want them gone. Caleb soon catches on that Cotton is a fraud, but says nothing. He knows now that his sister is not in any form of trouble from the preacher. Cotton performs his “exorcism” and calls it a day. However, he may need to re-examine his assessment when Nell appears in his motel room. He asserts that she has a frail mental state, and takes her back to the hospital, where they run tests.
Cotton goes to see the former family pastor, Joseph Manley (Tony Bentley), where he learns even more about the family. Louis takes his daughter home, and the crew later arrives there, seeing that Caleb has been cut (later to be found out that it was Nell’s doing) and that her father has chained her to the bed. The crew encounters some seriously disturbing drawings in Nell’s room, and soon figure that she is doing the terrible things that she is drawing. Cotton really needs to rethink if this is just a mentally unstable girl, or if there really is something dark and demonic going on. Soon it is discovered that Nell is pregnant, Cotton jumps to the conclusion that Louis has an incestuous relationship with his daughter, though it is vehemently denied. In the bedlam that ensues, the only way to placate a furious Louis is for Cotton to swear to do another exorcism, this one to be far more in depth than the last. However, more questions are raised at the next exorcism, and a new set of claims if brought forth to investigate.
Is Nell possessed or is she disturbed? Will Cotton be able to extract the demon from Nell’s body should that be the case? What does the creepy artwork of him and the rest of his crew represent? Is she really drawing the future or is she just trying to creep people out? What is really going on with Nell and her family? Will this drama cause Cotton to reconsider his faith, and have the crew stumbled on to a bona fide possession that needs a bona fide exorcism?
This film garners only a 5/10, and that is being generous. The premise was almost looking at possession in a new light, such as this minister with his dwindling faith picking a letter up at random to help the people out with an “exorcism”, meanwhile taking a camera crew there to document how he cons these people into believing that he has performed a valid exorcism. It shows he does not really believe in the whole possession thing, though he is supposed to have the most faith. Then their quick fix of helping the family turns into a little bit of an issue when the young girl turns out to really be possessed, then not, then she is, then she is not, then she is (like whaaaaaa?). It goes on like that the whole movie through. Not since The Exorcist have we had something that invoked the same type of reaction to the possession story and genre as that one brought. They are predictable, they are bland, they are basic and they are boring. This one is no exception to the rule.