We have finally reached the week of Halloween, which means we have reached the tail end of this October horror movie marathon. I’ve got six more reviews that I will be pumping out by Thursday so be on the lookout for those. Last night, I just had to review the classic, 1973 horror film, The Exorcist.
This movie was directed by William Friedkin, who just a year prior to the release of The Exorcist, won a Best Director Academy Award for The French Connection. It stars the legend himself, Max von Sydow, who looks just as old as he does 46 years later. He plays a priest who gets a call to perform an exorcism on a 12-year-old girl named Regan. Even though this movie is focused on helping this girl with her possession, there is a lot more to this movie than just that situation. However, these subplots become the movie’s worst enemy.
Everything that involves Regan is incredible. The direction and choreography of her possessed movements, the bed shaking, her makeup; all of those aspects are done brilliantly and are why this movie is held in such high regard. One of the most underrated aspects of this film is the environment of Regan’s room. The demon, whose name is listed as Pazuzu but never really spotlighted in the film, wants to be in a freezing cold environment to thrive. The demon leaves the window open and also sleeps without the covers on Regan’s body. One of the greatest pieces of cinematography in film history is the whole exorcism with Father Merrin and Father Karras. The blue color palette and the visibility of their breathing from the freezing cold environment is absolute gold. Their acting is phenomenal throughout this scene. You can feel their dread and the energy exhausted in the hopes of saving Regan. Unfortunately, scenes like this only happen at the very end of this 121-minute film.
This movie is an absolute slow-burner. The pacing for the first half-hour is tedious. While we need the backstory to help set up the plot, this movie struggles with its main focal point. In the first act, we are looking at multiple plots from Regan and her mother, the relationship with the father, the mother’s acting career, and Father Karras dealing with his very ill mother, who he eventually let’s die on his watch. This plot point was the only one that sticks for the duration of the film because it eats away at Karras’ mind, which leads to him making a fateful decision at the end. Regan’s father and her mother’s acting career do not really make an impact later on the film and these points should have been cut from the film entirely so we could get to the meat of this film quicker.
The one thing I do adore about this film is the attention to detail in sound design. You can hear footsteps on pavement crystal-clear and you sorta jump when you hear the abrasiveness of sirens from an ambulance or police vehicle. The score is absolutely chilling. Composer, Jack Nitzsche does a phenomenal job in the surprisingly few moments we hear this almost majestic, chiming music to set the uneasy feeling you get throughout the film. I feel like John Carpenter was heavily influenced by this score when he did the synth-heavy, immaculate soundtrack for the film that would come out five years later, Halloween.
With Halloween occurring this week, definitely go back and re-watch this if you have no other films scheduled for this week. I have two more reviews coming out today. Sean Clark gives his thoughts on the highly-acclaimed The Lighthouse and I will revisit the 2014 psychological thriller, It Follows.
25 movies down. 6 to go!