Best Movies of All Time + William Friedkin



The Exorcist is a 1973 horror film directed by William Friedkin that focuses around the demonic possession of a little girl named Regan (Linda Blair). When Regan first starts to develop strange tendencies and a seemingly changed personality, her mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) takes her through the medical rounds trying to figure out just what is wrong with her. After every possibility is exhausted and Regan's condition has only worsened, Chris enlists the help of Father Damien Karrass (Jason Miller), a Catholic priest who also serves as his parish's psychiatrist. He does what he can to help Regan but soon realizes his powers as a psychiatrist will not be enough, so he asks for help from a seasoned exorcist. The diocese sends Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), and the two priests take a stand against the demon infesting Regan's soul.

I feel like I've been insulting the "best movies of all time" gods quite a bit recently, with my lackluster reviews for classics like The Shining. Unfortunately for them, I have to push that knife in a little bit deeper tonight with my review of The Exorcist. Often cited as the scariest movie of all time, I personally couldn't find anything that really scared me. Perhaps it should be called the most scarring movie of all time if only for that oh-so-pleasant (read: sarcasm) crucifix scene... But I won't go into specifics. I simply just wasn't impressed by this movie that has so much hype from the last thirty-eight years.

My issues here are not with the acting. Young Linda Blair turns in a rather stellar, albeit quite disturbing, performance as the possessed child. In fact, the only time I could actually watch the film with interest was when she graced the screen. Sure, there are some other good performances from the aforementioned actors, but in my opinion, there's nothing absolutely fantastic about them. They're good, but not great.

No, my real issues lie with the Oscar-winning screenplay (and yes, I know I'm setting myself up for some egg in the face). Yes, we had some interesting and chilling scenes, but they all involved Regan and her possession. That's good and all, but Regan isn't on-screen for the film's entirety. No, we have to look at the other players every once in a while, and that's where the film gets a little bogged down. It gets a little too talky for a movie that is supposed to be sending chills up my spine. There's so much dialogue and seemingly so little substance, at least in my opinion. I feel like I'm missing the point here or something.

If anything works exceptionally well in this film, it's the musical score. Most people will recognize the below video as the "theme" to the movie, which is entitled "Tubular Bells" and was composed by Mike Oldfield. However, other original music was also used, and it fits seamlessly with the mood and the tone of the film. Kudos to the men who helped craft such a haunting score.

Ultimately, I can't completely recommend The Exorcist although I feel like I haven't given it its due justice. Maybe I was expecting a little too much in terms of the life-scarring horror (which I've received from that one scene I started to tell you about...). Maybe I let all that hype seep into my consciousness a little too much. I mean, I was hesitant to put the DVD in the player. That's how scared I was to watch this movie, and here I am now knocking it from its illustrious pedestal. Who am I to say this movie isn't brilliant? Well, I am an avid movie-watcher, but surely I can be wrong now and again, right?

I wanted so badly to love this movie, and maybe that's where I went wrong. I think it's one of those films that you need to see without any real prejudged thoughts, which is almost impossible with a movie as iconic as The Exorcist. However, now that I've gotten through the initial, hype-filled viewing, I can go back and re-watch it at a later date and look at it more objectively. If I'm still not feeling it then, I'll feel a little more content with my current state of bashing (which, if you look at my summary below, really isn't all that horrible). I think I'm just a little bit guilty right now.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: B-
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1973, Ellen Burstyn, Exorcist, horror, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Mike Oldfield, movie review, Oscar win, and more:

Relevant to: THE EXORCIST + William Friedkin