Classic Film Review: The Priests Work Overtime Here

The Exorcist is a 1973 supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin. William Peter Blatty wrote the script, adapting his own novel for the silver screen. Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller, and Kitty Winn are included in the cast of the most iconic of possession movies.

A 12-year-old girl begins exhibiting violent behavior and gruesome sores. It gets pretty wild before the doctors start prescribing an exorcism. Father Damien Karras is a priest who needs some convincing, however he also has a lapsed faith. Max Von Sydow’s Father Merrin shows up to lend a hand, and the demon plays for keeps.

This is a film with a pretty notorious reputation and apparently disturbed the first audiences to see it back in the day. Unfortunately, I have seen other possession films before this one, so I was already familiar with the usual tropes. We have the cute girl who goes completely berserk. The priest with a shaky faith is bit overused, although this movie may be the beginning of these overly familiar elements.

I was not that impressed, truth be told. The plot seemed rather slow at times. I was rather bored with the demon’s forays into extreme and profane behavior. The special effects may have been more impressive at the time of release, but these don’t age very well. There are a couple of moments of some clever verbal sparring between Father Karras and the demon. Some the screeching and cursing just seems to go on too long.

I did rather like the somewhat reassuring presence of the more experienced Father Merrin. He had a pretty cool hat too. I may have waited a little too long to see this film to really appreciate it the same way the initial audiences did.

I am likely in the minority when I suggest this movie has been somewhat overhyped over the decades.

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