Savor every jump and scream a little more after learning these 15 little-known facts about Daniel Stamm’s found footage frightfest.
1. The film’s evil demon is a henchman from Christian demon lore.
Abalam, the demon said to possess Nell in The Last Exorcism, is a minor figure from a Christian demonology text called The Lesser Key of Solomon. He is said to be the right-hand man (or demon, in this case) to a more powerful demon named Paimon. Most of the details about him were fictionalized in the film.
2. Director Daniel Stamm was chosen to head The Last Exorcism because of his film school thesis.
Stamm’s first film and AFI thesis, A Necessary Death, uses a similar found footage technique to tell the story of a filmmaker looking to document a suicidal individual for his own film school thesis.
3. The Last Exorcism was originally supposed to be co-directed by co-writers Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland.
The pair had to drop out because they were contractually obligated to write and direct a comedy called The Virginity Hit at the same time.
4. The film was originally titled Cotton after one of the main characters, Cotton Marcus.
The filmmakers decided to change the title to The Last Exorcism because they thought Cotton was too ambiguous and could confuse audiences.
5. Ashley Bell was the second actress to read for the role of Nell.
She got the part after she improvised an exorcism during her audition.
6. Patrick Fabian memorized an 8-minute sermon for his Cotton Marcus audition.
The filmmakers incorporated parts of the sermon in the final film.
7. The filmmakers used Google Translate to create the Latin text in Cotton’s demonology book.
When no translation for certain words could be found, the English was simply left in.
8. The filmmakers originally wanted to add fake credits to the end of their faux-documentary to make it seem like someone simply edited the found footage.
The idea was scrapped due to various credit stipulations from producers, actors, and directors guilds in Hollywood.
9. Nell’s Doc Martens weren’t in the script.
Nell was originally supposed to be barefoot throughout the entire movie, but the film’s insurance company wouldn’t put up the money to insure her feet, so the filmmakers gave her the boots instead.
10. Nell’s contorted back-bend (an image which ended up on the film’s theatrical poster) was not a CGI effect.
And it was added at the last minute. Director Daniel Stamm asked Ashley Bell what she could add to the scene to make it creepier and she showed him the flexible move, so he put it in the movie.
11. In fact, the film is almost entirely CGI-free.
CGI was only used to slightly enhance the bonfire at the end of the movie.
12. Nell’s vomit is made from a mixture of Gatorade, oatmeal, and Cheez-Its.
It was originally supposed to include chicken broth, but the recipe was changed because Bell is a vegetarian.
13. Ashley Bell’s father, famous voice-over artist Michael Bell, provided the voice for the devil.
Bell’s credits include voices from the Transformers cartoon, G.I. Joe, Chas Finster and Drew Pickles in Rugrats, and Handy, Grouchy, and Lazy Smurf from The Smurfs.
14. The studio used Chatroulette to market the film.
Visitors to the webcam-based chat site were given a shock when, in a video planted by the studio, a woman unbuttoning her blouse transformed into a demon.
15. The ending is inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing.
As in The Thing, the filmmakers left the ending ambiguous and didn’t want to neatly wrap up each storyline.