The Exorcist Screen 7 articles

The Exorcist


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  • [It's] a remarkably ungainly picture with little more than shock value on its mind. Friedkin, who prefers the staccato, never finds a rhythm for horror—the Iraq-set prologue seems to imply a connection to Georgetown that doesn't exist, and the narrative lurches inexpertly back and forth between Father Karras and the MacNeil household thereafter.

  • As a key visual source for Mel Gibson's depiction of evil in The Passion of the Christ, as well as an early indication of how seriously pulp can be taken when religious faith is involved, this 1973 horror thriller is highly instructive as well as unnerving.

  • At the one-hour point, when Chris returns home at night, the lights flicker in the kitchen and a demon's head appears above her own. This first of a small handful of new, quite subtle digital effects shots (care of digital effects artist Jennifer Law-Stump) is followed by more demon sightings in Regan's bedroom, including a noirish image of the stone figure viewed in Iraq by Mr. Exorcist himself, Father Merrin.

  • As the drama of The Exorcist is more or less a classically fashioned chamber piece, Friedkin infuses the film with his drastically stylized mise-en-scène and coarseness to heighten the atmosphere into a metaphysical state of mind, declaring a bold, yet ruthless, new mainstream artistry.

  • Blatty’s script was certainly strong, but much of The Exorcist’s ultimate success was due to Friedkin’s skill as a filmmaker, in spite of the work’s many moments of excessive, showy literalness. Just as The French Connection adopted a docudrama approach and cast people really involved with the case it described, Friedkin builds in The Exorcist, layer by layer, an intimately depicted, finely detailed context for the drama, a pseudo-realistic approach mixed with traditional genre style elements.

  • It’s topped countless lists of the greatest horror movies ever made, but William Friedkin’s 1973 supernatural shocker has always struck me as one of the greatest of all religious films — a movie in which unbelief and spiritual despair are enemies as dangerous as the devil himself.

  • Though I’ve always admired horror as a film genre . . . I’ve never found it especially scary. . . . I’m more frightened by the threat of unemployment or climate change — real life, in other words. But William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece frightens precisely because it channels cinéma vérité to feast upon everything fetid in our culture then and now: Freud, corrupt leadership, economic inequality, dysfunctional nuclear families, and misogyny, not to mention the Catholic Church.

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