Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Next time I should go with the Jeffrey Dahmer hairdo when I have an audition

On Tuesday night I went out and auditioned for a local improve group called Comedy City De Pere.  I prepared myself for several weeks by watching people do improve, by reading books about the subject matter, and by just being myself.  On Wednesday afternoon I got the email telling me of my fate.  I didn’t make the cut.  And it fucking sucks.
It really fucking sucks.  It sucks to epic proportions actually.  I was really looking forward to the potential opportunity doing something I really like to do (and think I am good at), making people laugh.  Unfortunately, that isn’t happening anytime soon.  Just thinking about it since mid day has made my stomach turn with disappointment. 
I utterly hate rejection.  Then again, that goes without saying.  Nobody likes it, do they?  Maybe some messed up people.  The whole idea of rejection is what stops me from doing a lot of things in life.   I don’t openly admit this often, but damn is it a real heavy cloud that hangs over me a lot of the time.  Fear of rejection drives me in the wrong direction more often than not.  Maybe it is my secret character flaw.  I dunno.  What I do know is that the past 12 hours have been a slight downer to me.  Now I know how Lindsay Lohan feels when her car’s breathalyzer won’t let her turn the key in the ignition.
An additional bummer of it all is that there seemed to be some cool people at that audition.  I was looking forward to getting to work with them and know them.  It isn’t often I get to meet new people anymore or even get out of the apartment for anything other than work or seeing a matinee on a Saturday afternoon with all the old people.  Meeting new people legitimately is much more fulfilling than stalking them over the internet.  Then again, stalking does have its own special brand of emotional fulfillment.  
I suppose I can try again in April.  Will I?  Can’t say yet.  I’ve been rejected once, so I imagine if it happened the next time around it wouldn’t sting so much.   Sheryl Crow was right when she said the first cut is the deepest.  However, a second cut could make the bleeding worse.  Let’s not blame Ms. Crow here.  She never did claim to be a medical professional.   She is right that you kind of need to just get over shit and move on.  I can do that.  Eventually.   At some point I will have to find the hole in my game plan and patch it up before April.  All I can do is regroup and refocus.  And remember the bribe money next time.
Making this all a little more depressing is that I am still trying to comprehend that horrific display by the Packers on Monday night.  18 penalties makes them qualified to play in the prison league (or Oakland).   That was some crazy fucking shit, wasn’t it?  Now, I can’t say that the Packers played worse than the Bears though.  The Bears should be worried.  They had a team giving up 160 penalty yards and dropping interceptions, but they still managed to barely squeek by.  If they played even remotely well, they should have won by 20.   The good news for the Packers is that even when they play like absolute shit, they keep it close.
Jermichael Finley was a bad ass mother fucker out there again.   He will be going to Hawaii at the end of the season.  However, I am sure he’d rather be in Arlington.  How pissed off would the Cowboys fans be to see the Packers play the Super Bowl in their stadium?  Maybe not as pissed off as they would be for an NFC East team, but I imagine that they would be pissed none the less.  I think that an opposing player needs to celebrate a touchdown by running to the blue star somewhere on the field and then crouch down as if they were taking a dump.  It is too bad that Najeh Davenport isn’t around anymore to do that.  
Have any of you seen “The Town” yet?  You probably should.  If you don’t, you are probably just a goon without any taste for good movies.  You probably shouldn’t be allowed to see movies in the theater.  You should stick to renting them seven months later from the off brand Redbox machine in the front of Woodman’s grocery stores.  However, you don’t deserve to see it without complications.  The disc probably needs to be scratched too, so you can think about your bad taste in movies.  
Now that the tangent is completed, let me say that I think that Ben Affleck guy sure knows how to direct a crime drama set in Boston.  You’ll also be impressed by Jeremy Renner’s ability to play loose cannons.  Only he could play a scene where his character shows his face to a man he shot just to let the man know he saw his face as well and do so in a way that makes the audience smile.  Personally, I was most impressed with my hetero man crush, Jon Hamm.  He plays an FBI agent with near ruthless tactics for getting the job done.  He completely separates himself from his role of Don Draper on “Mad Men”.  He didn’t need to distance himself that much because it might have been bad ass if he stuck it to someone’s secretary after having a mid day old fashioned at the office.   Then again, if we ask for too much we end up disappointed with the movie.
My quick hits for the week:
·         The Halloween costume is set.  I can’t reveal it quite yet, but it will involve some tanning.  Not to give anything away, but how tan does a person need to be to have the same skin complexion as Ron Jeremy?
·         The Healthcare reform law went into effect last Thursday.  I support the cause, but I don’t support all the dumb questions people are going to ask about it.
·         Is it wrong that I want to wander into Festival Foods and buy a cake for myself to eat?
·         Does anyone know the safest distance to follow a stranger in your car so that they don’t know they are being followed?
·         There is a possible hole in my exhaust.  Now my car is more annoying than a Bears fan yelling pleasant things to Nick Collins.
·         The Dexter season premiere didn’t do much for me, with the exception of the flashbacks.  Those were brilliantly done.  It baffled me how Dexter could suddenly be so stupid.   There was some sloppy writing.
·         Fox 11 news is doing a pumpkin carving photo contest.  I am so tempted to enter one of my creations.  I am open to take suggestions for this year’s design.
·         Everything ever grilled is 500% better if it is served on a pretzel roll.   I dare you to prove otherwise.
·         I participated in a flash mob tonight.  A unnamed friend of mind thought I called it a flash drive.  Nope.  Those don’t get people to stare at you.
·         Kwik Trip has surprisingly delicious pizza slices on sale for $1 each on Wednesdays.
·         The rumors of me attending a Zumba class are still false.  Unless you heard that I had mad dance moves or something.  Then that was me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

10 years and lots of time to get apprehensive about it......

A lot can happen in a year, right?  Even more happens in five years.  Double that and seemingly a lifetime has passed.  The entire world has changed before our eyes.  Ten years is a long time and in the next five or so days, that number of years will be on my mind.
Did you know that gas was only $1.56 a gallon back in the year 2000?  If that isn’t mind boggling enough for you, take into consideration that nobody had ever heard of an iPod back in September of 2000.  Anybody who would have uttered that word would have been looked at like they were some nut house escapee preaching about aliens.  The name Osama Bin Laden meant nothing to nobody and typing the name in your blog wouldn’t have been remotely cool because people didn’t do that then (also, the government wouldn’t have had this paragraph flagged for review in 2000.  But hey, I can use the extra page hits).
You can see my point by now.  The world has been turned upside down.  We could go on and on and blow your mind further, but that will only make most of you feel old.  It went by like a blur and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.  In the words of LOST’s Daniel Faraday: What happened, happened.  There is no time machine or quick fix in place to put life in its ideal situation.  I am where I am at for a reason (which is totally unknown to me).  There is no need to dwell on the past and what I should have or could have done.   However, this whole ten year high school reunion thing going on this weekend really wants to make me look back that far.
Valders High School.  Those words mean absolute jack and/or shit to the most of you reading this since I am certain that my readership is heavily made up of people who I met after I left that one horse town (and surprisingly a lot of Canadians if the stats from Blogspot are correct.  There are even a few hits from Lithuania).  If you hadn’t ever heard of Valders, Wisconsin I suggest that you Google the crap out of it.  It should take you about ten minutes of reading before you are all caught up.  There are a lot of dairy farms and the biggest company makes concrete structural pieces for buildings. Nobody famous has ever come out of Valders.  Mark Tauscher once visited the school for some contest a kid one.  Apparently my little brother got involved in some smack talk with him, but that has never been corroborated.  But hey, that is Valders in a nut shell.  Outside of all that, the school is the only significant thing in that town.
I do not believe that I have stepped foot in that town in the better part of 7 plus years since the family moved out.  It has been over eight years since I stepped into the school.  That is kind of perplexing to me since my mother works there and I did put a lot of time into it back when I was still in school.  I was voted the biggest Viking fan by my class senior year and was a fixture at most of the home sporting events.  I led obnoxious chants and cheers that were often met with glares by the teachers and adults that were present.  In four years, I missed one pep band performance.   My curricular attendance would have been perfect except my appendix had different ideas. 
In so many words, I fucking loved that place.   There is no reason to deny it.  I bled red.  (insert your “no shit, everyone bleeds red you self righteous prick” comment right here)  I was a regular poster boy for school spirit and might as well have hung around and became a contributing force to the school booster clubs and shit like that.  Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me.  It was called college.  Once I got to the ole UW-Whitewater, I learned that most of the world didn’t give a shit how loud I belted out “Go Team Go” on my trumpet or how witty the insults were when I mocked the last names of the opposing team when they were being introduced.  In the grand scheme of destiny’s plan, high school got left in the dust.
I once climbed to the top of this monster.

I don’t regret it.  Honestly, the best thing I ever did was go to school two and a half hours away from home.  I got out of town and basically did not look back.  There was a road in front of me that wouldn’t have been there had I peeked, even for an instant, in the rear view mirror.  There were probably a lot of bad decisions I made during college and after it, but getting out of Valders was not one of them.  I am not trying to sound insulting when I say that there isn’t a person I really miss (with the exception of a couple family members still in town).  That’s one of the reasons I am waffling on my decision to go to this class reunion.
Maybe it makes me a dick for having no inkling of interest in seeing any particular person from high school.  Maybe it just makes me a person who has just had some much happen in the past ten years that he no longer puts much thought into people he used to know.  You’ve all already made a judgment.  It’s okay.  You are allowed to.  If you hadn’t made one, then you hadn’t really been paying any attention.  I am fully aware that typing all this could make look like a total asshole.  I’m not one, though.  I just speak these things that other people think, but just don’t say. 
The conflicting thought here is that there are plenty of people that I damn respect and admire that are going to be there.  I keep in reasonable facebook related contact with a handful of peeps.  It is never like we have full on chats or letter exchanges, but we throw around the occasional comments.  So, there is the potential that my apathy for a reunion could offend some people who are excited about the idea. 
                The psycho-analysts out there are going to assume that there is more to this.  They’ll say that Nick Wallander is throwing out all kinds of defense mechanisms that will eventually justify his decision regarding the class reunion.  They’re right.  There is plenty of stuff going on in the back of my mind.   Like anyone with their right mind, I have my apprehensions.  There are many things that could cause for awkward moments and they really don’t help the case attending the damn thing.  Since we like to mock what is in my head, let’s go over them!
·         What in the hell am I going to say when people ask me what I am up to these days?   Should I say “oh, not much.  Just slumming it in a shit hole apartment and working in a customer service center in the most hated industry in America”.  There are going to be people who have real jobs with offices and assistants and they get to fire people and play golf during the day.  
·         Does anyone want to state the over and under of times people find creative ways to tell me that I’ve gained weight?
·         People are going to call me Wally.  There is no way around it.  I hate that.  It isn’t remotely creative.  I bet I would hear it about twelve times before I told someone to go fuck themselves.
·         There will be next to nothing to talk about with most people.  That means I would rotate through the same standard topics a few dozen times.  Boring!
·         There will be at least someone who only lives in the past and somehow can recall all the stupid shit everyone did.  I loathe the fact that I might hear someone utter “Remember the time that you…”  I will be embarrassed for that person.
·         I’ll also be embarrassed for whatever it is that they remember me doing.
·         I don’t think people will get my sense of humor that has evolved over the years.  For example, someone might ask me if I am married/engaged/seeing someone.  I don’t really want to answer that, so my knee jerk response would be my dark and twisted humor.  I would probably tell them that there was, but I chopped her up, put her in garbage bags, and then dropped her into Lake Michigan.  As funny as it is, it would be totally offensive.
·         A handful of people will say that they are sorry to see that my father died last month.  The thing is, I am not.  He was an asshole and the universe gave him what was coming to him.  This one ties into the last point since I will mostly likely tell people that I am not sorry and that he was a total prick. 
·         There will not be any surprises in store for me.  If life were like a movie, I’d have a former classmate introduce me to her ten year old son who is also named Nick and I would be like “Oh, that’s a cool name.  How’d you come up with it?” but wouldn’t connect the dots in my head.  This thing will be totally predictable.
·         I don’t drink, so there will be nothing to take the edge off.
·         Adding to that last one, the bulk of it takes place in a bar.
·         I am sure there is something I did to someone that I don’t remember, but lacked any maturity.  Who wouldn’t want that to come up?
·         Despite what people will make you think, they aren’t interested in who you have become.  Most are stuck on who you were when you were just a kid.
·         I’ll admit it.  I am one of the aforementioned people.
·         What happens if I run into someone I know has de-friended me on facebook at some point?  Can I de-friend them from the reunion?
·         Valders is a speed trap and I would rather not get my first speeding ticket there.
·         Nobody there will understand all of the funny pop culture references I make.
·         Someone is going to say “Nick Wallander!  You haven’t changed a bit!”
·         Correction, they will refer to me as “Nick W.”
·         When someone’s significant other says that they’ve heard about me, my mind will go into overdrive speculating what it might have been about. 
I suppose that was more than a few things.   Clearly I am apprehensive about it.  I act like it’s behind me and I don’t care, but that’s not entirely true.  Part of me wants to see how it plays out.  Truth be told, I am quite content with my life.  However, it would be totally awesome if I could see that a few people have it worse than I do.  Maybe that is what high school reunions are for.  They present an opportunity for all of us to feel better about ourselves……
Then again, I’ll probably be the one people are pointing at and laughing.  Meh.  If I think it is happening, I’ll just poop in their cars.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hey Now, you're an all star....or not, so I can't be friends with you.

While stalking through facebook I noticed one of my friends posted a status regarding a peculiar behavior I had noticed in the past.  It is something I could say that I had fallen victim to a couple times over the years.  Well, okay, maybe I wasn’t a victim, but it definitely was something I had happen to me previously.  I am talking about the strange phenomena of facebook de-friending.

                When I refer to the term “de-friending” I am not just meaning the act of removing someone from your friends list.  Although that is the simplest definition, it is not the specific act I am referring to.  I am more intrigued by those people who randomly purge their friends list of people for mysterious and unexplained reasons.  I can totally understand people de-friending over an offline dispute with an individual in their lives (or now out of their lives).  That scenario makes sense and has damn good reason behind it.  However, the people who just de-friend without a direct cause have some kind of anti-social personality disorder.
                Just hear me out.  I am not out of my mind.  There is something odd about doing that.   There are a handful of reasons someone might do that.  They aren’t justifiable reasons, but reasons none the less.  Then there are probably certain types of people who might be chronic de-frienders.  Let’s explore some of this bullshit.
    First we need to establish that most of the people we are “friends” with on facebook aren’t significant in our lives.  They are acquaintances or people you maybe knew well at one point.  Let’s be honest about what facebook is.  It is a popularity contest and a way to connect.  Ultimately, you don’t become “friends” with anyone you don’t want to.  If you ignore a request, the person may never notice or will just forget about you.  However, this leads me to the first illogical reason that a person might de-friend you.  For whatever reason, they may decide that they just don’t like you.  Well, people, that is really ridiculous.  And it is the fault of the perpetrator.   If they didn’t  like you, then they shouldn’t  have friended you in the first place.  Only a total dumbass comes to the realization one day that they don’t like someone.

                Why else might they de-friend you?  Perhaps they are annoyed by what you post or don’t like the things you say.  Well, that is just foolish, isn’t it?   You don’t have to read a damn thing that is posted.  If you do, it is because you are secretly interested in what they have to say.  Once again, these people knew what they were getting.  If they didn’t, well then they shouldn’t have friended you in the first place.
                Then there are the random de-friending events that happen because people decide that they need to weed out their friends list.  I am not sure why anyone needs to do this.  They do though.   Apparently there is a need to only have the closest of close people on facebook.  That is clearly a bunch of bullshit too.  If you want to keep in touch with just your close friends and family, use the phone.  Facebook is a social networking site.  The point is to have all kinds of random and vast connections.  It is the whole idea behind the concept.  If you want to restrict your connections, then get set up on an email listing.  Weeding out a friends list is basically the douchiest of acts one can do on a social networking site.

                Really though, who decides that their friends list needs to be exclusive?  Facebook isn’t a popular night club with a dress code.  There is no need for the pretentious and self righteous.  Anyone who is actively de-friending people who haven’t directly warranted it is probably some sort of prick.  Chances are that these assholes just think they are better than you for some reason.  Well, that is far from the truth.   Only a true loser would sit around contemplating who they are going to de-friend.  

                I also assume that some people de-friend others as a way to maintain their status.  They don’t want Sally So-and-So from high school to see that they were friends with the kid from the chess club.  Funny thing is that it is like seven years later and people are usually above such childish antics.  Nope.  People don’t really chance.  They tend to stay as sophomoric as they were as teenagers.  It really is fascinating to see people revert to their old ways once technology finds ways to bring together the same groups of people from years past.  

                Obviously this is something that I noticed happening to me.  It is a slight blow to the ego when you see it happen.  I like to think I am above that kind of feeling, but truth be told, nobody likes to find out that someone, even a faux friend, doesn’t like them.  I get over it soon after, but that initially feeling isn’t fun in the slightest.  This realization comes when you notice you haven’t seen someone’s status updates in a while.  I might not always pay complete attention to everyone, but I do tend to notice the posting trending on my news feed.  Eventually, when something isn’t there anymore, I notice.   

                The other circumstance where I notice I have been de-friended is when I see a former friend of mine commenting on a current friend’s post.  I will click their name not knowing I have been de-friended.   Then I see that their information isn’t even available to me and that I can “add them” as a friend.  Great.  Awesome.   I used to like you, dude.   However, someone was a fuck stick and had some sort of diva ego moment and considered me social garbage.   

                Have any of you experienced this?  It isn’t a big deal at the end of the day, but it still is a totally ridiculous phenomenon.   It really fascinates me how much a friend list and facebook posts affect the lives of people who aren’t even significant to you.  That is the real kicker here.  People take their time to go ahead and remove you from their friends and they really don’t even know you that well.  Seems like a little overkill for someone who isn’t worth it.  Get over yourself, assholes.  

                In conclusion, my advice to you kids is that you shouldn’t worry about it.  It is no reflection on you.  As it turns out, there are a lot of pretentious yuppies on the web looking to be big shot

Sunday, September 19, 2010

By the hammer of Thor, Clay Matthews is fucking awesome!

Clay Matthews may have seemingly been carved out by the Norse Gods of Valhalla.  He is a chiseled beast who was sent down to destroy all the mortals in his path.  He especially looks the part.  He could very well be the brother of Thor, the God of Thunder.  They both have long blonde flowing locks and wear helmets with shoulder pads.  However, the fundamental difference is that Clay Matthews doesn’t need some mythical hammer to get business done.  He just needs a blitz called. Hell, if Thor and Clay Matthews were dropped into a cage, my money would be on Clay.  He is a beast.  

                Now Clay Matthews isn’t any beast.  He is more like a genetically enhanced lion that has the tendencies of a piranha.  He smells blood and he hones in on the kill.  Ask Kevin Kolb about that.  Last week he personally auditioned for the sequel to Pirhanna 3D.   He might get the part, by the way, because he looked convincing taking an attack.   You could also ask Trent Edwards what it feels like to get pounced by a man eating piranha lion.   Think about it, folks.  Clay totally is some form of lion pouncing on prey in the Serengeti.  Just look at that mane of hair for starters.  And if he were a lion, his lion name would be Simba because of his lineage.   Clay senior would be Mufasa Matthews.  Trust me here, Clay is taking his place in the circle of ass kicking.

                The Packers looked good today, right?   Nobody seems to notice because the news outlets are busy felaciating Mark Sanchez for the one good game he has seemingly ever played.  Let’s be honest here, people.  The Patriots just played a shitty game here.  The defense was lacking and Sanchez just happened to pull his head out of his ass for a few minutes to throw a few pretty passes.  Brady really did play shitty.  Threw at least two interceptions and fumbled from what I saw.  It must have been because his Justin Beiber hair got jostled into his eyes.   You’d throw like shit if you couldn’t see clear as well. 

                My point is that the Packers are playing well.  They won the tight game last week by any means necessary.  This week they manhandled a team that they were supposed to beat.  That is what a good team should be able to accomplish.  Now I understand that it is way too early to be purchasing playoff tickets.  There are 14 more weeks ahead for the Packers.  That is a long time for bad things to happen.  However, there is no reason we can’t be optimistic.  Losing Ryan Grant shouldn’t be a problem.  They have capable guys.   McCarthy just needs to learn to trust Brandon Jackson and everything will be alright.

                I am calling it right now.  Packers versus Texans in the Super Bowl.   I want to see Jerry Jones watching the game from his private suite in the Arlington Transformers Dome or whatever it is called.  He will have had a lot of time to get over the Cowboys not being there since they will have been eliminated from the playoffs long before then (probably mid November with the way things are going).  I apologize for no official NFL predictions blog this year.  I was just sick of all the predictions and analysis after all my fantasy drafts.   None of you cared what I thought anyway.

                Can AJ Hawk get traded already?  Seriously.  He hasn’t been useful in Green Bay since they stopped having him on the pre-movie commercials at Marcus Theaters.   All he was ever good for was telling people to shut up and turn off their phones.  What is impressive about that?  There are basement dwelling high school kids employed by Marcus that can do the same thing, and for less.  The Packers really should push this skill of his when trying to trade him.  I am certain that there are noisy people in Buffalo movie theaters.  There has to be since there is nothing to hoot and holler about at the football stadium.

                Okay, I am done with this one.   I can’t write much more when I would rather stay up another hour admiring my Charles Woodson autographed football.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'd rather be creeped than scared.

It is my personal belief that there is a distinct difference between the terms “creepy” and “scary”.  In fact, you have to break the words down to their root to get what I am talking about.  To creep is for something to slowly move, often stealthy, and often building intensity.  To scare is to cause a sudden alarm or startled state.  In essence, a scare is a momentary feeling, whereas a creeping feeling builds and lurks for a while.  Many people interchange or use their words incorrectly when referring to the genre of horror in movies.  I hate that.  I really hate that.  Like with a passion.  People should think about what they are saying when they utter, “I’m going to see a scar movie’. 

In fact, I don’t even think that there is such a thing as a scary movie.  There are scary moments within the movie that may startle the shit out of someone, but the movie as a whole is not scary.  There are better adjectives to describe it.   So, to simplify my argument, I must say that there are two main types (amongst others) of horror movies.  There are movies that are a collection of scares or there are creepy movies.  I prefer the creepy movies over the other options.  They resonate more and have a lasting effect.  In fact, they are often the smarter of the movies in that genre.  Creepy movies often are slow burning and build upon the insecurities and fear of the viewer.  Some of the real good ones even manages to incorporate a few scare moment as well.  In essence, they are a complete movie experience.  Rather than momentary fright, you may have an actual emotional response invoked by the story being told.  That, to me, is really freaking awesome when it happens.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing movies that are a collection of scares.  They have entertainment value as well.   However, they aren’t the movies I tell everyone at the office about on a Monday morning.  The creepy ones will usually get a stamp of approval by me with a glowing review to go with it.  I talk about them because they got in my head and got me thinking.  Anyone who knows me knows that I like a good creepin’. 
I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my time.  Many of them are outright horrible.  Others are decent movies, but very forgettable.  The best of the bunch end up leaving me creeped out by what I saw.   The best of the bunch leaves me with a handful of films that I consider the most fear inducing of all time.  Among them I include The Exorcist, Halloween, The Blair Witch Project, The Strangers, Paranormal Activity, Let The Right One In, and The Others.  Each of those movies left me feeling afraid of something for a while and a few of them even gave me some nightmares.  You totally know a movie is creepy when your subconscious is bringing shit up while you are sleeping.

This weekend I added another movie to that list when I saw The Last Exorcism.  To say that the movie was creepy would be one way of putting it.  To say that it rattled my skin and my mind would be a better way of putting it.  It works on several different levels.  On one level it gives you the scares that so many of you are looking for.   On another level it slow burns suspense and fear causing your heart rate to increase as the movie goes on.  It will also have your mind going in several different directions.  In a nutshell, your body will have a physiological and a psychological reaction to this movie.  Perhaps I am biased and have a thing for exorcism movies since I already admitted to liking one such movie and did also enjoy Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  Then again, that doesn’t make me so much biased, but more as vulnerable to a particular fear stimuli.  I apparently believe in demons.  Who would have guessed?

I am sure you have seen the commercial for The Last Exorcism.  You already know that it is about some girl who is possessed by a demon.  That really is all the previews tell you of the plot while showing you a few moments that intend to frighten you.  The previews do the movie a total disservice and don’t sell you on the rich character development and smart plot.  There is a lot more to it than some girl being possessed.  In fact, you are probably thinking “of course there is.  It is about some priest’s last day on the job”.   That is generally the idea, but a very vague and expedited plot description.  Let me enlighten you without spoiling what makes the movie better than the average horror flick.

First of all, the previews don’t give away that the movie is shot in the “found footage” format much like Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity.  The basis of this footage is a documentary made about Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who is a fast talking preacher who does exorcisms on the side to make a little money for his congregation.  He is a man who gives the people what they want to hear and does so effectively because he has a keen ability to keep things interesting.   Cotton knows that he has people eating out of the palm of his hands and even demonstrates it by betting the film makers that he could somehow insert a recipe for banana bread into his sermon.  In so many words, Reverend Marcus is a show man.  In other words, he could be considered a fraud. 

You see, the exorcisms Cotton performs are not exactly what they seem.  He uses smoke and mirrors to give faithful followers the show they were looking for.   People pay him to rid them of demons.  He convinces them that they are gone and never hears from them again.  All people want is to see results.  They change their behavior based on what they see.  Are they possessed?  Reverend Marcus doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and doesn’t believe they are.   It doesn’t matter to him.  It just matters to the people he helps.  The whole idea of exorcisms is a farce in Cotton’s eyes and that is why he has decided he is going to do one more in order to show the world just that fact.

You are probably asking yourself why he would trick so many people and then just change his mind.  That is a good question.  Cotton explains himself when referring to the Vatican’s opening of an Exorcism school.  The idea of them is growing and that worries him because the process can be dangerous when involving children.   He even points to an article where a child had recently died during an exorcism.  If he can change the world’s views on the concept, then he could save some people from being hurt.  So, there you have an idea of the movie’s flawed protagonist.  Reverend Cotton Marcus is well intentioned, even if he does mislead many people in the process.

Cotton’s last job takes him to the Lousiana farm of Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum) who wrote the good reverend about his daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell), who he thinks is possessed to the point where she murders livestock during the night.   We follow Cotton has he does his fraudulent exorcism and promptly leaves like he always does.   The only problem is that this time is different for him.  The problems don’t stop and he ends up right back at the Sweetzer house performing a more thorough and seemingly real exorcism.

The Last Exorcism crafts the “possession” of Nell in an intelligent manner.  We witness a lot of strange behavior and even experience some scares with it.  However, as weird as things are, they could theoretically be explained psychologically.   As things go on, a mystery starts to develop as to why Nell is possessed or psychologically disturbed.  Regardless of which rationale you believe, you start to see it develop as pieces of the puzzle fall into place.  It is legitimately thrilling as the movie moves on and we get closer to a resolution.  There is a twist there the end that makes you think you have it all understood.  However, you don’t.  You’ll be fooled and you’ll love every moment of it.  The classic science versus faith idea is presented, but not in an obvious way.   As views we don’t know if Nell is really possessed and neither does Cotton.  He has a crisis of faith because he may be forced to believe in something he had been faking for many years. 

People who won’t see the movie will most likely assume that it is a rehash of every exorcism movie they have ever seen.  The beauty of The Last Exorcism is that it doesn’t borrow or mimic the obvious moments from movies like The Exorcist.  Sure there are similarities in how the “possessed” Nell behaves, but in general they are presented uniquely.   In other words, the possessed behaviors are presented in a realistic manner with minimal, if none at all, special effects.  The handheld shooting of the “found footage” enhances the creepy nature of these behaviors.  It feels like it could be real. 

The realistic feel of the movie helped me get more invested in the characters.  You want to see Nell rid herself of her demons, whether they be literal or metaphorical.  The interesting thing is that I started to root for Cotton Marcus, even though he is essentially a crooked con man.   Patrick Fabian’s performance and the writing of his character show that despite deceiving people, he does legitimately care about them.  He does want to help.  If he didn’t care the movie would have been a half hour long and he would have counted his money as he drive away.  Instead we are treated to a complex character that makes the movie work so much better than most horror films ever will. 

I also need to give credit to Ashley Bell for her performance as Nell.   She is absolutely polarizing as a innocent god loving teenager one moment and a messenger of Satan the next.  I could be convinced that she was actually possessed for a good portion of the movie.  Although she is convincing, it never strays into the realm of too obnoxious or absurd.  Bell keeps it in check and that sells the creepiness.

Yes, I do suggest this movie.  It has the scares for those of you who enjoy slasher films.  It is creepy for those of you who don’t mind some messed up dreams.  There is also a good psychological thriller mixed in as well.  The Last Exorcism may be the best horror movie of 2010.  I can’t think of anything else that will compete with it.  Hell, I will even go as far to say that it is one of the best character studies you will see this year as well.  Is it chopped full of scares?  No.  Is it a slow burning heart racer?  Yeah, that is more like it.  Is it a thinking man’s movie?  Only if you allow I to be such a movie.  I did and it reminded me why I love creepy movies.