Hello and Hallo-welcome to another How Have We Not Reviewed This Wednesday, where we wonder just what has kept us from reviewing a film that is so important to the horror genre for so long. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they settle in for a nice evening in to only hear a strange scratching in the attic, leaving them to allow their pea soup to cool as they go to see what is going on.
Today’s Film Offering: The Exorcist
Andy: I have a confession to make.
Horror Film-A-Holics Anon Meeting Goers: You’re safe here. Go on.
Andy: I hadn’t seen this film until two years ago.
Lilly: But. I had been making the ‘I’m going to need an old priest and a young priest’ joke for ages before than!
Andy: I know!
Lilly: I referred to certain shades of green as ‘Linda Blair green’!
Andy: I know! I know!
Lilly: It must have been so confusing!
Andy: It was!
Horror Film-A-Holics Anon Meeting Goers: Stone the non-believer! Stone the heretic!
Lilly: Well. That’s a bit much, but…
Better get on with this review before we delve too much more into the trauma of a life without The Exorcist.
The Exorcist is the story of a mother (Chris) who is worried about her daughter (Reagan) and the illness she is developing. This is no case of the chicken pox, doctors soon rule out, since most cases of that do not involve levitating and speaking in tongues. At least not any I’ve seen. Soon enough, she is at her wit’s end. Enter one of my favourite characters in horror, Father Damien Karras. A priest troubled by the recent passing of his mother, he takes on the case of Reagan’s possession with the help of a more experienced priest, Merrin, played by the brilliant Max von Sydow. But will it be that easy? Will it take just some faith?
Andy: I think we’re all guilty at some point of feeling a certain amount of resentment to movies that people tell us are classics over and over and over again and then they never, ever live up to the hype.
This is the exception that proves the rule. It genuinely is that good.
Of course, you already knew that, as I was the last person on the planet to watch it.
Lilly: Yeah, previously undiscovered settlements make the old priest and a young priest joke.
The Exorcist is a horror film that even did the rarest of rare–it reached commercial success in mainstream outlets. And for good reason. It explored topics such as religious belief, the limitations of medicine and a mother’s love to cure what ails a child’s soul, and self sacrifice.
You can go deeper than all that, too. You can explore what the film says about female sexuality (think of all those things Reagan says, and how Chris is perceived as a single mother), the Catholic church (as it is heavily implied that Merrin was the one who released the demon into the world, something that would go on to hurt a young child, partnered with the constant struggle between good and evil), about Karras’ ascension towards his ultimate martyrdom by the fact that he is constantly shot going up stairs or standing up, rising every time he appears, to even the subversion of two men in black robes being the good guys versus an innocent child.
So much. So good. I could go on for a while about all this. I really could.
Andy: As people who are far too young to remember the sixties, it is really interesting to see a film that not only acknowledges the generation gap that existed at the time, but jackknives an eighteen wheeler into the middle of it, too. To add to that long list.
Lilly: Honestly, this is a film I want to gush about. It’s got faults, sure, but…I don’t care. It’s powerful, it’s well scripted, and it clearly has a staying power in the modern world of horror to still influence makers today. From The Conjuring 2 through to a specific challenge on Rupaul’s Drag Race featuring a disembodied head that draws its lines from the possessed Reagan’s demonly wiles, you can’t escape The Exorcist, and you really shouldn’t want to.
This is a big thumbs up from us, and while this is a short review, it is because to say more would risk talking about it for ages–it truly is a Hallowfest favourite, so go, watch, and enjoy!
And if you want to talk about any of those themes at length, come on at find us on twitter, or comment here!