UK Release date: 16th March 1974
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 27th May 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I remember seeing this film many many years ago on VHS. At the time I liked it but didn’t think it was as good as everyone made out. Well much time has passed since then and I thought it was about time to give it another look. I must say I enjoyed it much more as a piece of filmmaking this time and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know I can now see just what everyone was raving about. I will give you more of my thoughts after this very brief summary.
When Regan MacNeil, daughter of the well known actress Chris McNeil, becomes possessed by a demon, her mother looks for a rational explanation. Medical science does not seem to have an answer and so they suggest an Exorcism may help. As Regan was taken over by the demon she had performed some horrific acts, including a murder which was investigated by Lt. William Kinderman. She had declined so far that she had to be tied to her bed in order to stop her harming herself or others. Father Damian Karras has contacted Mrs McNeil but he is not experienced enough to perform the rite. For this they need the much older Father Merrin, one of the few that have done it before. And I will have to leave my little summary here or the Spoiler Police (scary movies division) will have me floating a spinning my head (again).
A very slow deliberate pace may not be to everyone’s taste, but it gradually picks up and this gives more impact to the actual exorcism scene. Great performances all round, particularly from the young Linda Blair as Regan, Ellen Burstyn as Chris and Jason Miller as Father Damian Karras. I must also give a mention to Max von Sydow as Father Merrin and Lee J. Cobb as Lt. William Kinderman.
Although I did find there were scenes in the movie that didn’t make an awful lot of sense, I still found it quite a compelling watch. I’m not a religious man but I can understand how certain scenes may not be welcomed by some of those that are. I really liked the pacing of the film and the way several threads were woven together at the end. The only thing that was missing (for me) was a little more background on Father Merrin. Over all though, an excellent piece of work and one I have no problem in deeming HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 8.9/10
IMDb Score: 8.1/10 (based on 156,543 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 82/100: (Based on 24 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 85/100 (based on 47 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 83/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 308,690 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Chris MacNeil: What are you doing here?
Regan MacNeil: My bed was shaking. I can't get to sleep.
Dr. Barringer, Clinic Director: There is one outside chance for a cure. I think of it as shock treatment - as I said, it's a very outside chance... Have you ever heard of exorcism? Well, it's a stylized ritual in which the rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It's been pretty much discarded these days except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment, but uh, it has worked. In fact, although not for the reasons they think, of course. It's purely a force of suggestion. The victim's belief in possession is what helped cause it, so in that same way, a belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.
Chris MacNeil: You're telling me that I should take my daughter to a witch doctor? Is that it?
Demon: What an excellent day for an exorcism.
Father Damien Karras: You would like that?
Father Damien Karras: But wouldn't that drive you out of Regan?
Demon: It would bring us together.
Father Damien Karras: You and Regan?
Demon: You and us.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://theexorcist.warnerbros.com/