Spooktober Movie Review: The Exorcist (1973)

What is The Exorcist?

12-year-old Regan MacNeil begins to adapt an explicit new personality as strange events befall the local area of Georgetown. Her mother becomes torn between science and superstition in a desperate bid to save her daughter, and ultimately turns to her last hope: Father Damien Karras, a troubled priest who is struggling with his own faith. The Exorcist is directed by William Friedkin and stars Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, and Max von Sydow.

For my final Spooktober review of 2020, I knew I would need to go out on reviewing a classic horror film, and what’s a more classic horror film than The Exorcist. In terms of being a such well-regarded horror movie, no horror movie that is more respected than The Exorcist is. The stories about the movie making audience members nauseous and terrified are unlike any other stories I have heard about any horror films. So with that comes big expectations for a film with such a high stature, maybe too big in fact. Because The Exorcist doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’m not surprised by this. I went into the film trying to lower my expectations as much as possible, but with a film so beloved by so many people that it has to go up and beyond in order to meet your expectations. It’s a hard task to accomplish and The Exorcist just misses the mark for me. This is by no means me saying that The Exorcist is a bad movie because it’s not, but it doesn’t live up to my expectations for a modern-day horror movie.

I believe most of my criticisms of the film are due in part to time. I don’t see how people could have found The Exorcist as scary as they did. I have heard many stories about people fainting while watching the film and I don’t get it. I know this is a generational thing and I have to take into a account what horror movies were like when The Exorcist was released, but people still claim The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever and I think that has to with nostalgia more than anything else. It may have scared people when they were kids and carry that experience over into adulthood. And that’s perfectly fine, but I don’t know if they would have that same opinion if it were released today or if they would have seen it as an adult. And I honestly don’t know what horror film I would consider being the scariest of all time but I know it wouldn’t be The Exorcist.

Now, on the other hand, I will award The Exorcist with being one of the most disturbing movies I have ever have seen. Some of the scenes in the movie were just plain upsetting to watch. It’s creepy in parts, it’s disgusting in other parts, but it’s always disturbing and honestly, I would take that as more of a compliment than I would be the scariest. Being the scariest means you frightened your audience members at the moment they were watching, but it’s not guaranteed that the film will stand with you in the long run. However, being the most disturbing film a person seen, means the film really struck a chord with the person who watched it and it’s probably not going to something they ever forget. And even I don’t personally see myself revisiting The Exorcist often, (has something to do with that plain upsetting statement I made earlier) I can definitely say I along with many others won’t ever forget about The Exorcist. It has a rightful place in not only the history of the horror genre but movie history as a whole even if it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

2 responses to “Spooktober Movie Review: The Exorcist (1973)”

  1. There’s no way I’ll ever watch The Exorcist again. Too disturbing for me. I’ll tell you why it’s so effective for me (and everyone else). Unlike monsters that are fictional, The Exorcist can really happen. Which is why it affected people for decades. It was an endurance test for me, but I got through it with Bible in hand. So I think the title of “Scariest of all time” makes sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not sure that I would label The Exorcist the scariest or the greatest horror movie of all time. I get why some would. But I’m with you, it’s not so much scary to me as it is deeply disturbing. For that reason, it’s not a movie I’ll ever watch again either. I have a running list of movies that I think are very good movies but are just too hard to sit through more than once. This is one of them.

    Liked by 2 people

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