The Exorcist Horror Movie Review: Much More Than Just Iconic Scenes

The Exorcist still holds up today as one of the best horror movies of all time

The Exorcist is a supernatural movie that's been scaring the pants off people for decades. Directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, this film hit the screens in 1973 and has since become a cornerstone of horror cinema. It's one of those movies that, even if you haven't seen it, you've definitely heard about it. And if you haven't seen it, why not? WHY? Answer me.

The Story: More Than Just Head Spins

The Exorcist is really a story about faith, good vs. evil, and the lengths we go to save the ones we love. It follows the harrowing ordeal of young Regan MacNeil (played by Linda Blair), who starts exhibiting some seriously bizarre behavior. 

Her mother is at her wit's end trying to find a solution. Enter Father Damien Karras and Father Lankester Merrin, two priests who believe Regan's issues are more spiritual than medical.

What unfolds is a gripping battle for Regan's soul. But it's not just about the scares or the now-iconic scenes of possession. The movie digs deep into themes of faith, doubt, and the power of love.

The Scares: They Still Got It

Let's talk about the elephant in the room - yes, The Exorcist is still scary. Sure, horror has evolved since the '70s with CGI and jump scares galore. But there's something about the raw terror showcased that modern movies can't quite replicate.

From Regan's unnerving transformation to the chilling use of sound and visuals, the movie creates an atmosphere of fear that are left lingering with you. And let's not forget Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells'', which has become synonymous with creeping horror thanks to this movie.

Performances: Spot On

A big shoutout has to go to the cast here. Linda Blair’s performance as Regan is excellent. She manages to be both sympathetic and utterly terrifying - no small feat for an actor of any age, let alone a child. Ellen Burstyn brings a raw emotionality to Chris MacNeil that grounds the film in reality, making it all the more unsettling.

Then there are our priests - Father Karras is a study in internal conflict and doubt, while  Father Merrin exudes a calm authority that’s reassuring amidst the chaos.

Direction & Cinematography: Masterful

William Friedkin’s direction deserves all the accolades it can get. He crafts The Exorcist with a keen eye for tension and pacing, never letting up but also never overwhelming us with too much at once. The way he uses silence is particularly effective; sometimes what you don’t see or hear is scarier than what you do.

Owen Roizman’s cinematography complements Friedkin’s vision perfectly. The use of shadows and light adds layers to each scene, creating an almost visible sense of fear and unease.

Cultural Impact: Unmatched

It’s impossible to talk about The Exorcist without acknowledging its monumental impact on pop culture and cinema at large. This movie didn’t just scare people; it became a phenomenon. It challenged censorship norms, pushed boundaries in film-making, and sparked conversations around religion and spirituality.

Even today, references pop up everywhere from other movies to TV shows and music videos. Its influence on both horror cinema and popular culture still lives on today, and probably forever will.

Final Thoughts and Rating

The Exorcist isn’t just a great horror movie; it’s a masterclass in film-making. Its ability to blend deep thematic content with genuine scares is unmatched. Yes, it’s unsettling – but it’s also thought-provoking in ways few other films in its genre manage to be. One of my favourite movies of all time, this is a 9/10 horror movie in my eyes. [The Exorcist on IMDB]

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