The Exorcist

The Exorcist

"That's much too vulgar a display of power, Karras."

Despite being the source of midnight trauma for any small child fatally stumbling on, you'd expect The Exorcist to have the exact same cultural impact that the jumpy horror of the infamous 'scary maze game' had on so many of us. Shocking, loud and bodacious. However, 1973 was before the days of setting up a webcam to see your loved ones shit their pants, 1973 inspired horror that chills you to the bone. For this film is not crass and infantile, it treats any well versed reader of cinema with the greatest respect and (for the time at least) any first time watcher with a wave of subliminal nausea.

I wish I could say my first experience with The Exorcist is a pleasant one, but unfortunately this film came out about 43 years prior to my acceptance of what horror films meant to me, let alone the 26 years away from my actual birth. Much like Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, this was an affliction that preyed on my very deepest anxiety. I couldn't bare to google it, or see any promotional material, yet alone that notorious face. So it’s particularly odd that I see this more of a dramatic comment on ill-belief, birth and unbelievable circumstance than anything meant to truly terrify.

That said, there is a lot here that unsettles...

The flashes of Pazuzu when least expected, the dark blue colours in its climax and the synthetic household that contrasts the vulgarity of specific moments with ultra-perfection. It goes without saying how phenomenal Linda Blair is here, to deliver a performance with such integrity as a child actor is an outstanding accomplishment, her Oscar nomination is absolutely deserved. The one thing, considering all the stylisation, that gets me the most in terms of horror was the unrelenting focus on the effects of coping with failure, loss and stress. Two colliding arcs that are showered in remorseful, beautiful pain...

I'm almost saddened to see a large portion of people reflect upon this film as 'the scariest of all time'... it's hardly that in execution, and somehow, it's most of that in theme. I speak from personal experience, as a teenager, there is nothing scarier than hitting puberty. I've looked for scarier things, and I'd rather personally invite Beelzebub and his gang of demon buddies into my very soul than apply another film of FreeDerm to my oily face ever again.

Believe me