Though he’s known primarily as the gorehound enfant terrible behind the controversial Hostel films, filmmaker Eli Roth is not an easy artist to pigeonhole.

 

Outside of writing and directing both the grisly Hostel — and its even more gruesome sequel — Roth has worked as an actor for his friend and collaborator Quentin Tarantino in both Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds, and now, Roth steps back to quietly pull the producer's strings in director Daniel Stamms' hotly anticipated thriller The Last Exorcism.

 

“I always wanted to make a movie about demonic possession and exorcism,” says Roth, in Toronto recently to promote the film.

 

“But how do you top The Exorcist? That was the question and the answer is, 'You can't.' But what you can do, and what we’ve done here, is make a great movie that acknowledges The Exorcist without imitating it.”


Shot in first person style, the film stars veteran character actor Patrick Fabian (Big Love) as shyster preacher Cotton Marcus, who is trying to redeem himself by proving that demonic possession is a sham.


Linking up with a TV documentary crew, Marcus travels to the backwoods of nowhere to exorcise a young farm girl (Ashley Bell). He gets more than he bargained for.


“The beauty of shooting in first person, fake documentary format is that you can strip away the make-up effects,” the producer admits.


“It’s effective and further blurs the line between the natural and the supernatural. There’s a compelling clash between science and religion at play here and the audience is left guessing if the girl is possessed or is just mentally ill.”


The Last Exorcism opens wide next Friday.