‘The Exorcist’ review

ndsu spectrum: movie review

New footage makes ‘Exorcist’ scarier than ever

By JOHN HANSEN
Oct. 27, 2000

 

Like “Lost Souls,” “The Exorcist” works due to the mood set by the sound, visuals and pacing. But this 1973 horror classic—rereleased with 11 minutes of added footage—uses a slightly different tack to scare the crap out of the viewer. “The Exorcist” slowly draws the viewer in, then keeps them on edge by mixing complete silence with creepy music and sound effects.

Directed by William Friedkin from William Peter Blatty’s book, “The Exorcist” is the tale of a young girl named Regan (Linda Blair) who gradually shows signs of being possessed by a demon. Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is the mother whose panic mounts as the doctors fail to pin down what’s wrong with her daughter, Father Karras (Jason Miller) is a priest who left his mother to die in a decrepit rest home because he had no money for a better place, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is one of the few priests in the world who knows the ancient, largely discredited, ritual of exorcism.

Of course, this movie is not famous for its story or characters, it’s famous for being scary as hell. It gets progressively more intense through a series of creepy scenes (investigating strange noises in the attic) and dream sequences (the priest’s mother pleading for help, then descending into the depths of a subway station). Several of the moody scenes are supplemented by quick flashes of a demon face.

Regan’s descent into possession is both terrifying and funny. The first time you hear the girl’s demonic voice, it’s creepy, but later you start to think: OK, the kid is green, disfigured, speaking in surround sound, shrieking when splashed with holy water and vomiting green slime, and the priest still isn’t convinced she’s possessed?

The added footage enhances the intensity for those who’ve never seen the film, and it provides a nice treat for longtime fans. The spider walk scene is so shocking you wonder why they didn’t include it the first time.

Title: “The Exorcist”

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowan, Jason Miller, Linda Blair

Written by: William Peter Blatty

Director: William Friedkin

Grade: A-