aka The Exorcist – The Version You’ve Never Seen
132 min., 1973
Written by William Peter Blatty
Directed by William Friedkin
My rating: ★★★★
It’s the little movie that could
* * *
The movie begins with an archaeological dig somewhere in Iraq. We meet Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) who finds a little statue of a demon head. We then meet Father Karras (Jason Miller) who is dealing with his mother’s sickness. Then it shifts to Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) being a normal pair, goofing around and loving each other. Then Regan starts to act strange, swearing, spitting, and peeing on the floor in front a group of her mom’s friends. Not normal activity for most kids, right? As it turns out, she is possessed by the demon Pazuzu and Chris must now try and find a way to help her daughter.
Now the main focus is Regan and Father Karras, Regan because she is possessed and Karras because he seems to be losing faith. Which works extremely well because both parts are played with great care. You believe that Regan is truly suffering and you are on her side the whole time. Karras is one of those characters, religious or not, you can connect with. Losing a loved one, especially when you have been a strong follower of god, can push most over the edge. The other actors do a great job, but Linda Blair is the complete stand out. Being only 14 and taking on dialogue like this with complete conviction, shows that she can handle anything that comes her way. Sadly no more great roles came calling.
The effects are another great part of the movie. There are subtle effects that work so good, that they throw you off a little bit here and a little bit there, just enough to keep you on edge. Then there is the over the top effects that are just enough over the top to make them a joy to watch but not turn out to be hokey. Another thing with the effects is the lack of jump scares (when I say jump scares, I mean when the music screams to you that you should be scared). Music is used to heighten the mood and not cram it down your throat. A simple candle flaring up in near complete silence leaves a lot more of an impression then having that same candle with a blast of music.
The big problem with the movie is the pace. There is so much time used for showing the connection between Chris and Regan that it’s hard to keep interest flowing. It’s like the movie is a river and they toss in a dam or two that stops the flow. Does this kill the movie? No. But it will turn a lot of people away before they get to the good stuff.
Now The Exorcist is a movie that pretty much everybody knows about. Has everyone seen it? Probably not, but everyone seems to think that they’ve seen it. They talk about the buckets of green pea vomit, the masturbation with a cross and the spinning head, but in all actuality there is very little green pea vomit, the cross is not used for pleasure and the spinning head just rotates once. I think most have read about, or heard about it and then convinced themselves that they’ve seen it. So, to those who have “seen it”, give it another look and enjoy what’s there. Just be prepared for some loooooong scenes with very little going on.
One last question. Since this is called “The Version You’ve Never Seen,” does that mean that even after watching, I still haven’t seen it?Have You Read...?