The best and most apt review of The Exorcist that I could write would be ‘Just see it*’.
For a nearly 40 year old film to not only still be effective is one thing, but The Exorcist remains an absolute classic, and the unnerving feeling that makes the hairs stand up on your neck work like no other film in recent memory.
You can parody this stuff all you want, but it is still scary stuff indeed.
The Exorcist is – as the name suggests – the tale of a ritual exorcism held to remove an evil being from a young girl. The actual act takes place near the end of the film, with the first 90 minutes of the film being a creepily efficient prelude.
The afflicted girl is young Regan McNeil (Linda Blair), the daughter of a famous actress and single mum, who has the good fortune to be making a film that is being shot quite close to home so she can remain available.
This is obviously a happy time for Mum and Regan, they spend their days playing happy (rich) families, cavorting and acting as frivolous as actors in a shampoo commercial, and if Mum comes home a little edgy from a hard day’s filming ‘let the maid handle her’.
For a solid half hour nothing much untoward happens, then gradually we start seeing signs that Regan is a little… offfff.
After a couple of incidents that test the boundaries of what might be called ‘behavioural issues’, Regan is subjected to test after test after test, at the culmination of which no obvious reason or illness can be found.
In desperation Mum turns to the church, who are initially quite skeptical of the request, but come around pretty quick when Regan manages to levitate the bed and speak in numerous ancient tongues at the same time.
Father Karras performs the initial diagnosis, and he calls upon the more experienced Father Merrin for assistance in performing the ritual, where the famed pea-soup spewing, head spinning and expletive gushing all takes place.
Linda Blair is superb as the initially innocent 12 year old called upon to perform all of the afore-mentioned chicanery, and she handles the vomiting, oozing, profanity and upside-down crab-walking down the stairs with gusto.
There is occasional ‘did I just see that?’ subliminal imagery in the corners of scenes and in brief moments of darkness, nothing to do with the core plot but it provides more unease for the viewer. The voice work for the various inner demons and inhabitants of Regan is masterful and for the main part the acting is all quite believable and thankfully lacking in hamminess or cartoonery.
I simply can’t do The Exorcist justice here. Suffice to say that I have watched countless horror films over the last 2+ decades and keep coming back to it.
Final Rating – 9 / 10. There are a couple of films that I perhaps like a little more than The Exorcist. There are none better.
* Make sure you’re 18 plus. There is some freaky shit in this film.