I finally decided to write a post about the Exorcist, and it's been a long time coming, only because to me, it is the scariest movie ever made. So I have a lot to say about it, I suppose. A lot of people, especially people my age, will disagree with me that this movie is even a bit frightening. They say the effects are fake, the plot is boring, and the monster isn't even scary, it's just a little girl. I disagree; for me, that's why the film is so intense. What's so weird about a little girl being the main source of evil in the film? What about The Ring? Pretty good. Silent Hill? Absolute shit. Any Japanese horror movie in the last ten years? Ranges from brilliant to mediocre. But my point is, kids are scary for some reason. Maybe the message is that we should stop having children. I don't know, I'm not a film major. And if I was, I would have a lot bigger problems than what other people think about The Exorcist.
You can't go wrong with this movie, if you want to be scared. Sure, the build-up is slow, but that's what's so brilliant about it. It has you by the balls before you even know it's a horror movie. Sure, there's lots of blood and vomit and obscenities, but the psychological aspect is what drives the story, both book and movie. It's hard to get over the fact that Reagan is just a normal, regular little girl who happens to be possessed by the devil (or Pazuzu, in the book, but apparently that was too ridiculous of a name for the film.) Like it could happen to anyone. I don't personally know anything about exorcism, but it's fascinating, whether it's true or not. Even just taking it psychologically, without the religious factor, it's fascinating, how someone can be that much affected by his or her own mind.
The movie following religiously close to the book (that was a pun). Scene by scene, almost, just like the Silence of the Lambs. The author claims the book is based on a true story, but I highly doubt that he can follow that up with any real facts. It would be interesting and everything, but I really don't think it happened. Especially in the last century, with all the advances of medical science and psychology, we already know that the idea of exorcism is often applied to those with psychological disorders. That doesn't make them any less fascinating, just more realistic. It's the same thing for me with ghosts. I don't claim to know whether they exist or not, but a helluva lot of people think they do. I have no evidence either way, so I won't comment.
But if anyone tells you they weren't at least a little scared of this movie, that person is a liar. Watch this film alone at night with all the lights out, you won't be able to sleep. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and think that the demon-possessed little girl is going to be crawling towards me spewing pea-green vomit. Scary and repulsive. People tell me all the time that the Exorcism of Emily Rose is way scarier, but those people are liars. They just watch movies for the pretty colors and moving screen. This movie was insane when it first came out, it had such an effect on audiences, although I guess that's only what I've heard from the filmmakers and DVD releasers. And they do tend to exaggerate. But I like to think that The Exorcist is the movie that really gives horror a good name. It turned the genre from something just intended to bring cheap shocks and gross-outs and turned it into a study of the mind and how much it can take. Again, I might be blinded by my love for this film and reading too much into what just isn't there, but I really think that the psychology, especially that of Father Karras, is what makes this film a cut about the rest of the schlock horror that was previously being released.
I know a lot of people who refuse to watch The Exorcist because they think it will scar them for life. It will. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch. In fact, I think that means you should watch it immediately. What is the purpose of film than to change your life? Sure, it entertains. But don't you need something deeper than that sometimes? Even if it changes you by making you afraid of the dark or terrified of using Ouija boards, isn't that better than sitting through another Saw movie and just wanted to yawn and vomit quietly into your popcorn box? I would rather have something really affect me than to just go through life bored and discontent.
A few quick notes on some of my favorite parts.
All the religious imagery and blasphemy: sometimes hard to stomach, always hard to watch. I'm Christian, so it does bother me but I'm almost glad they included it to show the raw evil of the demon. It makes it much more disturbing and gruesome.
The "subliminal" messages: This movie got into a bit of trouble for including some subliminal imagery (watch when Chris walks through the kitchen, a demon head flashes on the stove, look on imdb for more instances.) But I think when you catch it, it makes the movie all the more frightening. And looking for the images is half the fun. Watch the original demon-head trailer on youtube if you want to poop your pants in fear.
Both Father Merrin and Father Karras are brilliantly portrayed by Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller respectively. Watch for Father Karras' dramatic end, so sad.
Linda Blair is the creepiest kid ever. Especially when she's raising her arms up in the bed and the demon appears behind her. What the fuck?
"Dami, Dami, why you don't visit me, Dami?" Poor Mama Karras. I knew a kid named Damien and I called him Dami sometimes.
Have fun sleeping after you watch this one.