JT Film Review

The Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut (1973)

The Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut Review
Review # 141

5/5 stars

Director – William Friedkin

Cast – Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Millers, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, William O’Malley

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– followed by Excorcist II: The Heretic

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I am not a horror movie fan in general, and don’t expect to become one any time soon.  I have a sneaking suspicion this is the result of all the torture porn out there, which isn’t true horror, in my opinion anyway. I just don’t like horror movies that rely on gore and/or jump moments for their effect. The horror movies I do like tend to inspire not so much horror per se, but a slow and rising feeling of dread. Movies where the tension just builds up and builds up, not to be released in a “jump” moment, but in an inevitable series of events, the climax that the movie has been building too.

The Exorcist is a movie like that. It hasn’t aged well in some ways, as in todays desensitized culture the shock elements are perhaps not as shocking as they once were. But The Exorcist is still unnerving, chilling, and even moving. This is good, as those are the more important elements of the movie anyway. The story is really at the forefront here, and that’s how you make a good horror movie, or any movie for that matter, regardless of genre.

We follow actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), whose young daughter Regan (Linda Blair) is starting to behave oddly. After countless doctors fail to come to a diagnosis, and as Regan is acting worse and worse, she feels she has no choice but to turn to a priest for an exorcism. She finds Father Karras (Jason Miller), a priest who privately feels himself to be losing his faith in God. He manages to convince the church that an exorcism is required, at which point Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is brought in to lead it.

This movie of course has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in its time, mainly of course for the disturbing and hideous transformation of  sweet 12-year-old Regan into a possessed blasphemer and, well… cross fetishist, but the scenes detailing her experiences with the medical community are almost as bad. Perhaps it is because this torture seems to come from a more real and concrete world. It is to the movie’s credit that by the end of the movie we fully believe that the demons and exorcism are just as real. The director apparently had a lot of experience with making documentaries. Perhaps the sense of  realism that is palpable throughout the movie stems from that. Strange though it may seem, the most important thing in horror movie is that sense of realism. Without it, no strange and gruesome events would ever be really scary.

OVERALL

The Exorcist is a drama with scary bits, and works beautifully that way. It puts story above scares. While the shock factor may not work quite as well to a modern viewer, it makes up for it with an engaging story and excellent acting. Highly recommended (to those who can stomach this kinda thing).

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TRAILER

 

“The Exorcist” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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February 6, 2012 - Posted by | 5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Horror, Year - 1970-1979 | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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