I love movies. I love to talk about movies. There’s just one problem; every time I talk about movies, the conversation goes like this;
‘Oh, do you remember that scene from *iconic film I have no excuse for not seeing*?’
‘Erm, I haven’t actually watched it…’
‘What?! *Rant about how I couldn’t possibly have not seen this movie’
…Yeah. I need to educate myself, so I thought why not write about what I’ve seen? What is it about these movies that makes them so iconic? Do people like them because they’re legitimately awesome or did they just come at the right time? Do I genuinely have no excuse for not watching these? Lets find out together. Join me as I take on The List.
The Exorcist is one of the highest grossing horror movies, if not R-rated movies of all time. It’s topped heaps of top-ten scary moments lists, it caused widespread fear and panic from the word ‘go’ and references to the movie are so widespread you’re probably quoting the movie before you’ve even seen it. Yet for some reason I just never picked it up. I absolutely adore horror movies and I’ve seen the lists and I know the references, so it seems natural that I’d at least give The Exorcist a shot.
But that fucking trailer. You know the one. The one they banned in theatres because they thought it was too frightening. They were right. For those of you that haven’t seen it, it is terrifying. (Here’s a link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XuB8DJ0AI8) The score is top-notch and they only flash images of the possessed Regan for a fraction of a second. Once I saw this I honestly didn’t sleep right for weeks.
That alone put me off watching the film for donkeys years. I must’ve seen that trailer a couple of years ago and I only picked up the film quite recently. And to an extent, the trailer almost feels like false advertising. I’m not trying to say the film isn’t scary; it is. It’s one of the most shocking films I’ve ever seen. What I’m trying to say is it’s scary and shocking in a different way than the trailer implies. The trailer goes out of its way to make Regan look scary. And that’s about it. The film doesn’t do just that.
When we first see Regan and her mother Chris, we see that they are a small but sweet family. The chemistry between Linda Blair and Ellen Burnstyn is amazing; they feel very close and they play off each other well. Watching the cheeky but gentle Regan suddenly snap into this bratty little kid (And that’s putting it lightly) before becoming outright inhuman is heartbreaking to watch, especially when you see Chris struggling with the entire situation. Watching her confusion, despair and outright helplessness as she does everything she can, going to every doctor she can find, trying to rule out every possible medical condition before finally begging Karras to perform an exorcism is torturous to watch in the best possible way.
You’ll notice I’m trying to avoid speaking about the actual exorcism in the film. That’s really because there’s not much to say that hasn’t been said countless times. The effects are amazing. Linda Blair’s performance is amazing. Mercedes McCambridge is downright spine-tingling. I don’t want to speak much about it because it’s the draw; you come to see the exorcism, you know that’s what’s going to happen. You expect to be stunned and scared. What you don’t expect is to feel for the characters, at least as strongly as I did.
This film is as emotionally wrenching as it is scary. You’ll come to see some frankly astounding special effects and be scared out of your mind. What you’ll find is a surprisingly moving film – I wasn’t scared (or at least as jumpy as I expected to be) so much as anguished for most of the film, and I pretty much cried the whole way through. It’s a slow-burning horror film with great drama and an excellent payoff. You’ll be so emotionally invested in what’s going on that the effects won’t matter. You’ll see retroactive references but they won’t phase you (…Except for maybe ‘THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!’).
This is a film that has lasted the test of time and definitely deserves its status as one of the best horror films of all time. Honestly, all else I can say is you’ll want some tissues. If you’re not wiping your ass by the end you’ll definitely be drying your eyes.