The Exorcist Reviews
Friedkin builds the tension masterfully. Incredible suspense and a very sinister and eerie feeling. Great shock value too
The result is a very scary movie, and one which reminds you that horror movies don't have to be b-grade schlock, they can be works of art.
Good performances all round. Three of the cast got Oscar nominations: Ellen Bustyn (leading actress), Linda Blair (supporting actress) and Jason Miller (supporting actor). No nomination for Max von Sydow but his performance is spot-on and the movie made his career.
The Exorcist is one of the most famous horror movies ever made. But, is it still good, even more than 40 years later? When the movie mas made, back in 1973, it was considered the scariest movie ever made. I, personally, wouldn't call this movie to be the scariest now. There are a lot of creepy scenes that made me feel a bit uneasy, but it was never truly terrifying. Despite it not being very scary in this modern time, it's still a brilliant movie. The story is quite basic. A girl is possessed by a demon, who claims to be the devil himself, and we slowly see how she falls more and more under the control of the demon. Her mother takes her to a lot of doctors, but there never seems to be any problems with her brain or any other organs. After so many doctors and psychiatrists, she becomes desperate and asks a priest for help, to do an exorcism on her. The story isn't anything special or remarkable, but back when this movie was made, it was all still uncharted territory. The characters are well developed and I especially liked Damien Karras, the priest who does the exorcism (with the help of another, of course). The special effects look great, even now. There's a lot of practical effects and it's really amazing how they managed to do so much with the technology they had back then. The whole exorcism scene at the end is breathtaking. It lasts for quite long and ends on a very depressing, emotional note. The acting was great, except the girl, who at some scenes was very cringey, but it all changes when she becomes possessed. The direction of the movie is also great, I don't have any complaints about it. I actually don't have any complaints about this movie at all. It's a remarkable achievement in the horror genre and there probably won't be anything else quite like it. I would highly recommend checking this movie out, even if you're not a horror fan. This is, just like The Godfather, a must-see.
The Exorcist takes place in Georgetown in the current day of the movie's release (1973). The movie follows the life of a twelve-year-old girl, Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), during the duration of her possession by an evil demon that claims to be the Devil. The opening scene of the movie takes place in Iraq at an archaeological site where Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) is working; during this scene a figurine is found that you see throughout the whole movie and seems to have ties to Regan's possession. You are then introduced to Regan and her Mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn). Regan's Mother is an actress; she and Regan had just moved to Georgetown in Washington D.C. for the movie Chris was starring in. During this introduction Regan is a completely normal twelve-year-old girl who is excited about a horse she had seen that day and loves crafts; but Chris finds an Ouija board in the basement that Regan claims to use to talk to a ghost named "Captain Howdy".
As the movie progresses strange things begin happening in the house, like banging sounds in the attic and the window in Regan's room being open, making the room freezing cold. After an incident where Regan's bed begins shaking her personality begins to completely change. Chris takes her to the doctor where they believe that she just needs to take a medication, Adderall, and she will soon be better. After a scan of her brain they find that there aren't any abnormalities which make her behavior much less explainable. The possession really takes hold of Regan after the scans. The possession of Regan results in the death of three characters and multiple scenes that contain an overwhelming amount of profanity, sexual references and innuendoes, and violence that all come from 12-year-old Regan.
Although The Exorcist was released in 1973, it displays excellent use of special effects. The face of a demon that appears in some places is used frequently; the demons face is always just an overlay on the film rather than an actor that is actually being filmed with the scene. They also sometimes overlay photos of the figurine found in the archeological site. Some other advanced and convincing effects used were making Regan's bed shake, making her head spin around, violent thrashing, cuts that are caused by holy water being thrown as if it was a whip, and projectile vomiting.
Sound is something used very often to achieve different effects. Music played always matches the type of scene. For example, suspenseful music is played during suspenseful scenes. The iconic Exorcist theme song, Tubular Bells, is played right before some of the strange things with Regan happen while Chris is walking home. They also make sounds louder to put emphasis on things. During a scene where Father Merrin is going to leave Iraq, the sounds of traffic and working people is amplified as well as the sounds of dogs fighting when he looks at a larger version of the evil figurine that was found. You also see this in a scene where Father Damian Karras (Jason Miller) is going to visit his Mother, in a city neighborhood that isn't as well off as the other neighborhoods you see in the movie, any sounds that are negative like a woman yelling or children jumping on a car are very loud in comparison to other sounds in the scene. Another interesting use of sound is the many voices that Regan has when she is possessed. She takes on the voice of the demon (Mercedes McCambridge) as well as some other voices, one of which is the voice of Father Damian's Mother (Vasiliki Maliaros); these voices are added seamlessly and match up with Regan's mouth movements very well.
Lighting is something else that was used a lot (and well) to create different atmospheric effects. In Iraq most of the lighting that was prominent was from the sunrise and sunset. The sun would always be very bright yellow on a very red sky. Most lighting in the movie is created just by the regular light of the room, like a lamp or harsh fluorescent lighting.
The makeup used is very convincing. The longer Regan is possessed, the less human she begins to look; this effect is accomplished by first making her become pale with very dry and cracking lips, and then by progressively creating the look of sores, cuts, and bruises all over her. They also successfully created a false stomach over Regan's real stomach that had very pronounced ribs and the words "Help me" that appeared to have been written from inside her stomach. There wasn't any makeup that wasn't perfectly executed.
The actors in The Exorcist performed very well. Everyone does an excellent job expressing the emotions that you imagine someone would feel in the situation that they are in. I am especially impressed with Linda Blair's performance, she was very young when she portrayed the possessed main character of this movie, she had to take on multiple personalities for her character and she did so flawlessly. There wasn't any acting in the movie that I can think of a complaint for.
Some people may argue that The Exorcist isn't really the "scariest movie ever made" or that it really isn't as good as I think it is; most of this is due to the age of the movie. Many people see the special effects in The Exorcist as cheesy and therefore the movie as not scary. When I see The Exorcist I see amazing effects for its time and an incredibly scary movie psychologically. Overall it is hard to argue that The Exorcist is not a great movie. Of all the horror movies that have been made, The Exorcist has to be one of the most classic and most compelling of them all.