The Exorcist

The Exorcist ★★★★

Generally considered to be one of, if not the best horror film ever made, The Exorcist is an excellently crafted film whose name has been carved in the minds of horror aficionados everywhere.

The Exorcist is based on a 1971 novel of the same name, written by William Peter Blatty, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. It tells of a story of Chris, a young actress who lives with her daughter, Regan, in Washington, D.C. After Regan starts having some weird uncharacteristic behaviour, Chris takes her to the doctors who fail to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the young girl. Regan's actions starts getting more and more violent and scary, which leads Chris to seek out a priest to perform an exorcism on her daughter.

The revolutionary plot has been mimicked numerous times since the film's release in 1973, but rarely does one come close to the brilliance of that of The Exorcist. There's something exceptionally creepy about an unknown entity terrorizing the life of a young girl. An alien being that we don't know what it is, or where it's from that can cause that much terror and suffering is a horrifying thought.

The whole script was remarkable with the incredibly well written characters, the powerful dialogue, and the aforementioned, haunting plot. The characters feel entirely life-like, not just soulless bodies who provide the audience no incentive to care about them. Blatty also left a lot up to interpretation which gives the film not only great re-watch value, but also a deeper layer that sets it apart from other horror films.

The acting in The Exorcist is quite amazing. Chris McNeil is played by the terrific Ellen Burstyn, who plays the role of the successful actress and horrified mother excellently. Fahter Damien Karras, the troubled priest who is having trouble with his faith, is played by Jason Miller. It's hard to believe that this was Miller's first acting job, as he was absolutely tremendous. Regan was played by a young Linda Bliar who without a doubt stole the show with her magnificent and downright creepy performance as the possessed girl. She definitely showed her wide range of acting talents in this iconic performance. The supporting cast was also top notch with acclaimed names like Max von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb showing their acting skills in the roles of Father Lankester Merrin, and Lieutenant William F. Kinderman. Also, Mercedes McCambridge's exceptional voice over work cannot go unmentioned, as her voice was used for that of the demon's, which is just as iconic as Linda Blair's performance.

Director William Friedkin did a phenomenal job with The Exorcist. From getting the best out of his cast, to the visuals and the beautiful camera shots, he delivered an Award worthy directing job. The cinematography by Owen Roizman was beautiful in its simplicity. The wonderful shot of Father Merrin arriving at the McNeil house was so good, they used it on the poster for the film. In short, the film looks absolutely brilliant.

One of the best things about The Exorcist was the make-up. Seeing how the sweet and beautiful little girl evolved into an ugly, frightening beast was magical. It doesn't look hokey, nor does it look fake. I'm in no way anti-CGI, but this just goes to show just how good practical effects can be.

The film also benefits from having a bone-chilling score that has become one of the most famous when it comes to horror films. It definitely fits perfectly with the tone of the film.

Whether you like horror or not is irrelevant when it comes to watching The Exorcist, because it's truly a classic that should be seen by everyone who likes films.

This film was part of the 2014 October Horror Challenge.

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