The Exorcist is one of the most famous, if not the most famous horror movies of all time. The movie was released in 1973 and made thirty-six times its original budget for filming. The opening weekend had people waiting in long lines to get into theaters in adverse conditions. It was the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Motion Picture at the Academy Awards. Saying all this, I must confess, I only watched it for the first time on October 8th of this year.
Yes, I am 33 years old, a nerd, and a horror movie fan, and have not ever seen this iconic movie. So, does this movie hold up? Is it as scary as people have hyped it to be? Let’s break it all down. What did I love? What didn’t I love? The Exorcist was a great all-around film in terms of casting, directing, filming, and production. For a movie made in 1973, without the use of many technologies we have today, the effects and the quality of production hold up.
Practical effects used in the movie I think hold up pretty well and some of the scares definitely had me hiding under my hoodie. Namely, the part where Regan walks backwards down the stairs. Something about bending bodies in ways that are so unnatural scares me more than demons and ghosts.
The overarching story here is good vs. evil. There are characters who are struggling with their faith, some who have none, and others who have too much. In the end, the one who was struggling to find his way again was the one to save this little girl from certain evil. His chivalrous act allowed this mother and daughter duo to move on from this terrifying ordeal and continue living a happy life.
Of course, there were the cliche horror tropes which you can’t escape and I couldn’t even be mad at. After all, this movie was part of the building blocks for every movie after it. Plus I feel like they were addressed in a way that made sense. For example, the mother not believing that anything supernatural is wrong with her daughter was handled in a way that fit the characters. It felt less trop-like than most movies nowadays that do it for the sake of creating drama.
Ellen Burstyn’s character Chris McNeil takes her daughter to every doctor imaginable to help her daughter before turning to the church for help. Plus at the beginning of the movie Chris and Regan use the ouija board together, showing us that she doesn’t believe them to be a conduit for evil. She has no reason to believe as such until later in the movie. I liked how it wasn’t outright telling the daughter she was crazy or imagining things, she believed that something was off with her daughter and did everything she could to figure out what. For a horror movie that is very rare.
That being said, I do believe that there are some things that made me less of a fan of the movie. Some things just don’t hold up as well in 2021. There are quite a few vulgar scenes within this movie that it could have done without.
Swearing in the movie was used as a “this is obviously evil” tool. It didn’t really seem to fit the narrative and combined with a literal child saying gross things will violating herself with a cross and shoving her own mother’s face between her legs and shouting more gross things? A big no for me. It felt like it was vulgar for the vulgar’s sake. I could have done without it. The movie would not have suffered without those scenes. I am no prude, I just feel there are lines not to cross and this crossed it for me.
The pace of the movie was a bit on the slow side for me, though, I did enjoy the back story and the fact we got a nice setup to the story, however, there were parts of the backstory I think could have gotten more focus over others. For example, less of a focus on the mother’s acting career and more focus on why there was an ouija board in the closet and how Regan began to play with it. Of course, I realize that in 2021 we live in a more fast-paced world and we like things to happen more quickly. So this is just a sign of what year it was filmed in.
So I can mostly look past it. Maybe it was more of a focus on things that didn’t really need focus over other aspects of the plot that I had an issue with. It did move slowly so I could have forgiven it more if we got more of a focus on Regan’s beginning plotline and not the mother’s.
The last thing is more of just a “whoa” moment for me. The smoking. Yikes, the smoking. Even the doctor was smoking inside the doctor’s office. Definitely, a movie filmed in a different era of time.
Overall I give this a 7/10. The scare factor was there, too much vulgarity and slow pacing for me. I know I may be shunned by the horror community for this. I recognize the iconic nature of the movie and how scared it had people when it first came out. There were just some things I could not forgive. These are just my thoughts and opinions so feel free to watch for yourself if you never have seen it. Let us know what you think even if you have seen it!
Happy Spooky Season Nerds.