The Exorcist is a horror film from 1973 adapted from the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name. It was directed by William Friedkin and stars Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn and Jason Miller. It has an approximate running time of 122 minutes.
This review is NOT spoiler free. The Exorcist has been out since 1973. If you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you.
If you ask 100 people what the scariest movie they’ve ever seen was, the majority will probably say The Exorcist. Religious themed horror movies seem to make vast amounts of people very uneasy. I even know some people that flat out refuse to see religious themed horror due to how uncomfortable it makes them. That’s a shame and awesome all at the same time. The Exorcist was made for a little over $10,000,000 and has a lifetime gross of over $440,000,000. That number can be attributed to the effect it had on the people that saw it. I hadn’t seen The Exorcist in over a decade and I thought I was due for another viewing. There were moments of that movie that were forever burned into my memory a decade ago, so I was curious to see if they had the same effect on me.
The Exorcist starts at a slow, but eerie pace. Nothing really happens for a bit, but you get the sense that some heavy crap is about to go down. I didn’t really remember pre-possession Regan, so I was pretty surprised to see how good of a job Linda Blair did as such a young age. Within the first half hour I had a pretty good feeling about this movie. The acting and story were both holding up and keeping me interested. A friend of mine hit the nail on the head by saying that it felt like a Hammer horror film. They really took care with the story and atmosphere and didn’t cut any corners.
When the possession starts it starts small and gradually builds. Again, that was something I didn’t remember. My most vivid memories of Regan during the full possession saying things that would make a sailor blush. It was very, very creepy watching a 12 year old girl slowly turn into an untamable monster. It was helped by the fact that the effects held up very well and still made me forget that it was just a movie. The vomit and the spider walk (the spider walk is one of the creepiest moments I have seen on film) are two scenes that would make any “creepiest moments in cinema” list. I was totally into this movie and glued to the screen, which made the brutal ending even more shocking.
I had no memory of the end of The Exorcist, but in that moment I believed Father Damien Karras was going to pull it off, save the girl and have his confidence restored. The moment when he screams for the demon to take him and not the girl had me pumped and rooting for Father Karras to save the day. All that hope was ripped away when the demon took him and he threw himself out of the window, thereby removing the demon from the land of the living. I was so wrapped up in it that I was genuinely saddened by his death.
The Exorcist is a classic for a reason and anyone that appreciates horror should see this film. In my opinion it withstands the test of time and for a movie 40 years old (it’s 40 years old!) that’s saying something.
Keep it creepy,