Machete & The Last Exorcism
The year begins with two smart twists on film genre. Machete grew out of a trailer in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez‘s tribute to ’70s exploitation Grindhouse. As a full-length feature, it’s a sugar-addicted ADD kid on the rampage, giddily lurching from one guilty pleasure to the next, whether it’s a man playing Tarzan with someone’s entrails or Jessica Alba in the shower. Danny Trejo, his pock-marked face familiar from a hundred straight-to-DVD slam-bangers, is the Mexican superhero who takes up blades against a trio of villains that includes Don Johnson‘s sh*tkicker and an anti-immigration senator mugged furiously by Robert De Niro. To say that Stephen Seagal gives the performance of a lifetime may sound like damning with faint praise, but like everything else in this five-alarm flick, it’s something to see.
The Last Exorcism would seem like a Blair Witch wannabe if it wasn’t so smart about character. A professional exorcist hopes to expose the theatre at the heart of his profession by ridding a bayou farm girl of her “demons.” What at first seems like a confrontation between two fakers haunted by worldlier spirits turns out to be much more. The mockumentary format serves the scares well, especially when the troubled girl drags the camera into the Satanic action, and Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell would deserve award notice if the world wasn’t so easily blinded by stuttering kings.
Extras: Machete has deleted scenes and an “audience reaction” track. Viewers will have to bring their own Tecate six-pack. The Last Exorcism includes a pair of commentary tracks, a making of featurette and an extended segment on real-life exorcisms.
– By C. Bottomley