'The Exorcist' Review: Forty Years of Terror
Released in 1973, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist has been perhaps the most enduring figureheads of the horror genre. So notoriously horrifying that, upon its original release, some theatres had to put up warnings and hand out barf bags, it has long retained its place among the most horrific and disturbing films of all time.
So is it any surprise that I did my best to avoid it for nearly the past 25 years?
Yet, coming out of my first viewing, I have to say: it lives up to the hype in many ways. The Exorcist is a beautifully atmospheric movie, even by today’s standards, and while some of the scares may have softened a bit, the disturbing themes and imagery still have a sinister potency.
Regan’s (Linda Blair) descent from lovable and innocent daughter to Pazuzu-possesed monstrosity is a terrible sight to behold, but one which wonderfully mirror’s Father Karras’ (Jason Miller) return to the power of faith. What began as a haunting mystery escalates to dual of iron-willed resolve, with a fitting payoff, to be sure.
Granted, with the horrific stories which surround its creation, including physical and psychological abuse from the director upon his cast, you have to sort of wonder if the cost was worth it. To be sure, Friedkin created one of the most influential horror films of all time, but he did so by some very uncouth means.
Like so many other movies this month, I can’t say I completely enjoyed my time with The Exorcist – but I now understand that this was never its intent. This is not a film that is meant to make you feel warm and happy when you finish it, even as it attempts to reaffirm some modicum of faith in the viewer. No, The Exorcist gives you a cinematic look into the darkest parts of our world, and forces you to face the horrors and evils that could be lurking in even the most innocent-seeming places.
Final Verdict: Watch It