THE EXORCIST (1973) Directed by William Friedkin; Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max Von Sydow, Linda Blair
This is a bit of a cheat.
But it was interesting to realize that I had never seen the original theatrical cut of The Exorcist. I went to the theaters in 2000 to see the recut extended version (billed as The Version You’ve Never Seen) with friends, many of whom had never seen the film either. Honestly, rewatching the original cut, the only thing missing is Regan’s spider walk down the stairs. I don’t remember any of the other scenes that were cut back into the film except that one.
Based off the Novel by William Peter Blatty (which I’ve read, and is just as good if not better than the film itself), this was a film ahead of it’s time. It was unexpected, especially for the world of 1973. I’ve heard people claim not to find the film scary, but I disagree. This is a film that leaves an unsettling feeling even after it is done.
Everything about this film is amazing. Great direction from William Friedkin, amazing acting from all the principal performers, even child actor Linda Blair. You’ll see me harp on this often, as I believe that it takes a great director to get a great performance out of a kid. If you have been around children you will understand why. I think the other thing that doesn’t get acknowledged is how Max Von Sydow’s Father Merrin hangs over the entire film despite having the least amount of screen time of all the other main characters. That majestic shot of Merrin in a standoff with the statue of Pazuzu, knowing that he will have to confront the demon again, is mesmerizing.
There is not much to be said about this film that hasn’t been said by far better writers than me. Is it overrated? I don’t think so. I honestly believe how you feel about the film is the mindset you go into it with.
And while I can’t necessarily review it for the challenge, I would definitely recommend seeking out Blatty’s own Exorcist III which is probably one of the most underrated films, especially considering that it is a loose sequel.