Two priests fight to save a young girl who has become
possessed by an evil, otherworldly entity that threatens her life.
The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by William Peter Blatty
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Jason Miller,
Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, William O'Malley
Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty
Oscar Wins - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actress (Ellen Burstyn),
Best Supporting Actor (Jason Miller), Best Supporting Actress
(Linda Blair), Best Director, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing
There are a number of horror movies throughout the years that have changed the game. Movies that went to a far darker place then their predecessors, or were simply so disturbing that audiences couldn't stop talking about them. The Exorcist is one of those films, exploding onto the scene in 1973 and never leaving the pop culture discussion thanks to its iconic imagery, flawless performances, and frightening realism. It's one of the few horror movies to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and it doesn't take a critic to understand why.
When Regan MacNeil (Blair) becomes possessed by something dark and evil, her mother Chris (Burstyn) reluctantly recruits a disillusioned priest, Father Karras (Miller), to perform an exorcism to cast out the evil. Karras brings in experienced exorcist Father Merrin (von Sydow) to lead the ceremony, and what follows is some of the most disturbing horror imagery of the 20th century. It was so disturbing that actress Linda Blair had to tour the talk show circuit and convince people she's just a little girl, not the devil. The visuals in this film, as well as the haunting song "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield, help cement The Exorcist as a horror movie staple that many people still can't bring themselves to watch.
While I will never dispute the fact that The Exorcist is a great movie, the hard truth is that in the past 47 years, it's been eclipsed many times. A lot of those films are well-known, like The Conjuring. Others don't get the same press. But the recurring images from The Exorcist that have never left pop culture have also participated in making it a lot less scary. Now, a lot of first-timers know what to expect, and long-time horror fans have seen it done to death. It's a great movie thanks to the performances and the brilliant story, but I think we may have to admit that The Exorcist just isn't that scary anymore.