The Exorcist

The Exorcist ★★★★½

The Version You've Never Seen (2000)

It is the daddy of the modern horror genre, a book adaptation that matched the success of the paperback blockbuster, serving as inspiration to countless mimics, imitations and spoofs. This is the recut version released 13 years ago, which extends the run time by a further 11 minutes.

In some respects Roman Polanski had set the stage for the arrival of The Exorcist five years previously, with the chillingly atmospheric Rosemary's Baby. It toyed with the idea of the devil's spawn brought into our homes, not only invading our family but targeting the most innocent and vulnerable of all.

That is what gives The Exorcist the edge over many of those that followed in its footsteps. Brutal and sadistic, the Devil is depicted in his worst form, reveling in the pain and torture that delights him so much. Friedkin has a blast taking over the families life, in his element shocking and scaring where he can. There is no end game of creating a Demon Dynasty on Earth, a king Lucifer to rule mankind. No evil baby to be wrenched from its mother.

All that interests him is how much displeasure he can create through the vile acts he imposes onto Regan. He watches as the men of God give their all to equal his power then disposes of them when the time suits him, and nobody else. Father Karras' lapse in faith also plays a central part in the story, and this helps to inject a human element amidst the supernatural madness.

Having seen the original only in part, this is my first full viewing, taking in the extended version with the added 11 minutes. The now infamous 'spiderwalk' does come like a bolt from the blue, not helped by a speed which undermines the reality in which the basis of the story feels rooted in.

Prints of the devil's image have been imposed onto the face of Regan and seen almost sublimely on a few occasions adding a creepy affect, although it may not be to the liking of fans weened on the original. Something that cannot be debated is the quality of the Bluray which helps translate the clarity of the situation faced by the family.

This updated version sits somewhere inbetween a directors and authors cut. The changes mean the film now imitates the original novel by Blatty, including elements Friedkin originally wanted in the 1973 version but were omitted due to running time constraints. The alterations may offend the diehard fans but it doesn't affect the impact of a 40 year horror story still reaping its influence today.

Steven liked these reviews