Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Exorcist (1973)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
A girl is possessed by the Devil.

When Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) begins to act strangely she defies all medical attempts to find the problem. She claims her bed and room are shaking before telling a man he will shortly die. Following this, a seemingly unrelated nearby incident occurs when of one of her servants dies mysteriously after being left alone with Regan.

As her behaviour becomes more and more erratic and her mother (Ellen Burstyn) witnesses the events, she enlists the help of two priests to exorcise the devil from her child.

Prior to watching the film for the first time, the only thing I had ever really heard about The Exorcist was of its infamous Tubular Bells soundtrack. People have frequently said to me that that is one of the mosiet scary pieces of music ever written, but I always thought it was quite catchy - until I watched the film. Another fact I'd read up on The Exorcist is that it regularly tops scariest movie lists (Entertainment Weekly) and, as I've never been a fan of horrors, my first impression wasn't exactly one of joy.

To begin with the actual horror in the film, it begins very slowly. A sweeping desert landscape is only reminiscent of The Mummy in terms of shocks but alas, there are none to be found here. The tension begins to build as the film moves to the city landscape and director William Friedkin starts to become my worst enemy. The image of Regan MacNeil possessed by the devil is definitely one of the scariest encounters I've had in film and intermittently flashed up images of the Devil only served to compound my misery.

The Exorcist is aided by Friedkin's decision to only use Tubular Bells in the soundtrack. There is the occasional deep undertone during tension building moments but other than that the film sticks with dialogue and action to continue the horror. Tubular Bells itself is used somewhat sparingly which is surprising for anyone associates it directly with the film having not actually seen it.

Finally, the acting of young Linda Blair needs to be commended; she is the powerhouse behind the film. She is irritating before the possession, but as her face gradually changes so does her acting. It has to be one of the finest controlled pieces of acting from a young person I have seen for a while.

The perfect horror.

Lists

15 comments:

  1. I will admit, this movie was the scariest thing I ever saw...only watched it once.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. It is full of hide-behind-the-cushion moments. The worst bit is that the beginning of the film lulls you into a false sense of security.

      Delete
  2. I am seriously failing, I guess my 5 star movies arent a patch on Empire's choices..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The films I'm watching for the A-Z are not on the Empire 5-star list. They are just a bunch of films that I ought to have seen that correspond to each letter of the alphabet.

      The 5-star 500 is even more obscure in places(!)

      Delete
  3. Indeed-- that was one scary movie..don't think I made it all the way through it (I was young when I first watched it).

    Cheers, Jenn
    http://www.wine-n-chat.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Had I not vowed to watch it for this challenge I would have shut it off half way through and dunked my head in a cold bucket of water.

      Regan is one scary possessed person.

      Delete
  4. classic horror, love the oldies, not the teen screamers...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the old ones - because I hate (watching) them.

      Teen screams give me earache.

      Delete
  5. I was this close to doing a review of The Exorcist for my movie themed post for the letter E. But I decided to go with a heavily-panned sci-fi movie instead:

    http://michaelabayomi.blogspot.com/2012/04/equilibrium-movie-review.html

    I also saw The Exorcist recently (sometime last year I think), but I came out of it a bit disappointed. Mainly because I had heard nothing but good things about the movie, and I went in expecting it to be the scariest thing ever. But the buildup in the beginning was too slow. And even beyond that, the actual scares were only mildly unsettling, at least by today's standards.

    What blew me away though was the actual exorcism. For a 1973 movie, it had some excellent production values.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love a good slasher or gory horror flick, but nothing beats the classic implied lurking horror feel.

    ReplyDelete
  7. the power of christ compels you... and repeat!

    Excellent! ... to the challenge "E" is for Efficient!
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    IZOMBIE: Visit the Madness

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very interesting...I had to chuckle becuase shen this movie came out I wanted to see it like most teen age kids but my mother would not let me go. I was convinced I was the only girl in high school that did NOT see the movie and still haven't!
    Great E word and nice to meet you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Not the first Exorcist post I have seen today, in fact I posted about the very same subject, but covered the whole franchise a little. I enjoyed the movie and althought I think times have changed and this is quite tame by a lot fo today's standards it still has some pretty scary bits in it.

    http://smurfdok.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've never seen this movie--I get the sense it would freak me out for months. :P

    Thanks for the review!


    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

    ReplyDelete
  11. Movies containing plots about people being possessed creep me out so I've never watched The Exorcist and don't ever plan on watching it, unless it's playing in the background during a party. The closest horror movies that I've watched that come close to possessed characters or evil are those Children of the Corn films.

    ~Nicole
    Blog: The Madlab Post
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

    ReplyDelete