Resolutions 2014: The Exorcist

exorcist

Resolutions 2014 may be winding down, but we’ve still got a few more reviews coming before we call it quits! Today, for example, brings yet another new name to the roster–Mr. Alex Raphael! If you’re not already following Alex’s blog, definitely change that. He has all kinds of great content–beautiful photographs, awesome quotes, challenging quizzes, and wonderful reviews, just to name a few things. When Alex told me he was reviewing this film, I was very excited to see his reaction not only because it’s one of my favorite horrors, but because he had informed me he wasn’t much of a horror fan. Did he like it? Read on to find out!

I’m a regular reader and commenter to Caragale’s very cool site and just had to write a guest blog. The Resolutions series has been fab and with an incredible set of both bloggers and films being covered so I had a really long think about which one to write. So, in the spirit of going all out, I decided to go for a genre I have for the most part stayed away from, horror. And what better than one of the most famous ones of the genre, The Exorcist.

Gist

Hollywood star and divorced mother of one, we see Chris MacNeil in Georgetown filming her latest role. But events start to become sinister as her young daughter starts behaving in weird, seemingly unnatural ways. While this is occurring, the athletic and withdrawn priest Father Damien Karras is questioning his faith after the painful loss of his mother.

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Good points

The Exorcist is damn scary. It’s violent, gory and terrifying, and I’ll admit there were plenty of times I jumped out of my seat. The scenes where the possessed young girl Regan attacks those trying to help her are particularly horrifying as you can feel the tension building and that at any moment she is about to lose control. Not to mention the unforgettable exorcism itself, which is legendarily intense and emotionally draining.

The tone is dark, unsettling and psychologically disturbing. This is not a film about being alone in a dark room/haunted house with a crazy villain on the loose. It reaches far beyond that. It’s a reminder that a really scary film messes with your mind more than just your heartbeat.

Which brings us to the script. It is wonderfully paced and intelligently drawn, with believable reactions and a linear set of events. The characters are well rounded, sympathetic and real. The fact they are relatable people who aren’t courting danger, and the fact that it all builds so slowly is what helps makes the film so horrifying.

Based on a true story, director William Friedkin directs with confidence throughout. Reading into the background of the film, his dedication meant filming running months longer than expected, and included using a gunshot to scare actors. Filming in super cold temperatures so as to get breath visually really pays off. The spinning head and green vomit are neat touches. Everything seems so authentic but spectacular.

And what acting! Everyone is on superb form, but Ellen Burstyn is incredible. Playing Regan’s mother covers the range of despair, torture, confusion and sense of betrayal she feels, unsure of who to blame or why this has happened. I’d seen her in Requiem for a Dream, but this is as good if not better.

The music.  Mesmerising, haunting and religiousy (not a word but it should be).

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Bad things

Not much to be honest. It does start slowly and very little happens in the first 40 minutes, but that really is nitpicking as it helps to introduce the characters and helps generate momentum for the last half of the film.

For such an iconic film there’s no standout dialogue. Most of the spectacle is visual and there’s no profound or definite comment for what is such a powerful film about religion.

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A worthy resolution?

For someone not really a fan of the genre, this was an astonishing experience. In fact, at times it didn’t feel like watching a film at all. It felt I was watching real people deal with a scenario that they had no idea how to explain. The fact it was based on a true story is even creepier.

Grade: A-

I’ve gotta say, I’ve been thrilled with a lot of the films my guests have chosen for this series, and this choice is no exception! GOD we’re a tasteful bunch, aren’t we? Haha. Thanks so much, Alex, for the great review! Hope it doesn’t give you too many nightmares! 😉 And for anyone else still wanting to send a review, just a reminder that the deadline is TOMORROW. Send it to cs227@evansville.edu if you’d still like to have your say!

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47 thoughts on “Resolutions 2014: The Exorcist

  1. Still pretty damn scary after all of these years. Most of that is attributed to the way Friedkin directs this flick like a play, as if it were to take place in real life, where Satan, ghosts and all sorts of freaky stuff does exist. Nice review Cara.

  2. Good work, people!!

    I actually saw this for the first time a couple of years ago and I didn’t really care for it : (

    I think because I had hear such good things about it for SO LONG I felt let down. Plus Exorcist 3 is one of my favorite movies! : )

  3. I saw this once in high school and was really bored. Perhaps I’ll give it another try soon based on this fellow non-fan of horror’s review.

    Great job Alex and Cara

  4. Great review – good to hear you couldn’t find many faults with it. For me, it is flawless. It’s genius. It is the greatest horror film ever made – an incredible experience. I do credit Friedkin for making it all work – the whole thing is so unsettling and it rewards a re-watch. I’ve seen it countless times now!

  5. Love this film. Friedkin was such a passionate Director. Ellen Burstyn almost suit because Friedkin injured her while flinging her back against the dresser in the famous scene. She kept on telling him that she was getting flung too hard and he didn’t listen. Ellen Burstyn was pissed and almost quit over the whole incident. When you hear her scream when she hits the ground in the movie, it’s real. She got hurt and was bruised for a couple of weeks.

  6. Great review, Alex. And agreed. This one is creepy. Quite.

    The first time I saw it I was alone and too young (maybe 12 ish). I still remember the broad strokes, but it scared me so badly I am still afraid to rewatch it.

  7. Pingback: Reviews and other Features: The Exorcist | Alex Raphael

  8. Reblogged this on Alex Raphael and commented:
    As mentioned in my horror quiz I was keen to join the very awesome Silver Screen Serenade in her Resolutions 2014 series. So i decided to see a film I’d not seen before but been intrigued about for a while. Check out my review of The Exorcist here.

  9. This scared the living daylights out of me. And I’d first seen it as an adult. Don’t think I’d ever watch it again, but I completely agree with everything you’ve said in your review, Alex. Really nicely done!

  10. Fantastic write-up Alex, its one of my favorite horror films of all time and I’m kind of there with you, I’m not the biggest devotee to the genre. Cara this has been a really fun blogathon to read up on. Lots of great stuff!

    • Aw thanks, Tom! Yeah people have come up with all kinds of good ones. And I’ve been thrilled by everyone’s response! I might have to keep it going for two months next year! 😀

  11. This is deserving of all its credit. A true classic of the genre, and a greatly written review to do it justice. I think that is quite the accurate score as well! Glad a horror film was able to impress a person who does not usually enjoy the genre!

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