I heard many things about the movie The Exorcist for years before I first saw the movie on television a few years ago. I didn't see the entire movie at that point, but I did enjoy it. I decided to add the DVD to my collection when I found it fairly cheap.
Father Merrin is at an archeological dig in Iraq where strange things are discovered. At the same time, Father Damien Karras is trying to deal with his mother being sick and he is having issues with his faith. Chris MacNeil is an actress who is living in Georgetown with her twelve-year-old daughter Regan while making a movie. Regan's behavior starts changing and Chris takes her to the doctor. It is suspected that she has some sort of lesion on her brain, and she is put through horrible tests that come back negative. After Regan's condition gets worse, Chris turns to Father Karras, hoping an exorcism will help her daughter.
The Exorcist is based is based on the book of the same name by William Peter Blatty. I've never read the book, so I don't know what was changed for the movie. From what I have read, Blatty based on the book on what was supposed to be a real exorcism of a young teen boy. The movie has lead to two sequels and two prequels.
Things start off fairly slowly in The Exorcist while different characters and situations are introduced. The different subplots going on don't seem to be related at first, but as the movie progresses, the way they are connected comes out eventually. The slower pace does allow for the tension to build. I wasn't bored by what was going on, though I did wonder a few times when more was going to start happening. Only a few scenes have any action in them, so this is definitely not an action packed movie. That may disappoint some viewers.
Several things that happen in The Exorcist are disturbing and could be upsetting to some viewers. Most of the disturbing things involve Regan in some way as her condition grows worse. I even found the tests she was put thought a bit disturbing since they looked so unpleasant. There are a few more light hearted moments earlier in the movie featuring Regan, but this is far from a fun, happy movie. At first Regan does seem to just be sick in some way, but she does really weird and disturbing things, making it clear that something else is going on. Much of what Regan goes through is upsetting and some of it is freaky. The music that is used during the movie is also rather freaky, which helps add to the mood at times. This is not a movie for everyone, and certain things will probably bother some viewers.
The violence that turns up in The Exorcist is confined to certain scenes. The violence isn't overly graphic, though a few of the images are more graphic than others. There is more build up and hints at violence and scary things which I think ultimately makes the movie stronger. It also allows the viewers to use their imaginations to fill in certain things, and that is what makes the movie so scary. There are a few scare type moments in the movie, but I think the things that aren't shown are scarier. People that enjoy the more violent slasher type of scary movies may be disappointed with this one since those things don't happen in this movie. Religion also turns up throughout the movie since a few of the characters are priests. The religious things shown may offend or upset some viewers.
Most of The Exorcist is focused on Regan and what is going on with her. The things shared about Father Mirren and Father Karras seem more minor for the most part, though the things shared end up having some sort of significance. Father Mirren has had experience with an exorcist previously when he was in Africa. Father Karras is dealing with issues related to his mother and his faith. There really isn't much else shared about either priest even though they take part in the most important parts of the movie. Another priest, Father Dyer, turns up in a few scenes along with Lt. Kinderman, a police officer who becomes involved in what is going on.
Chris is an actress who is in town to film a movie. She isn't shown working that much. Most of the time she is shown to be concerned about something connected to Regan. At first it is the fact that her ex-husband can't be bothered to even talk to Regan on her birthday. Chris sees first hand some of the bizarre things going on and she gets very frustrated by what some of the doctors tell her. As the situation gets worse, Chris is more willing to consider other options to help her daughter. Ellen Burstyn does really well with the part.
Regan is a normal twelve-year-old girl at first. She does seem happy overall, though it seems like she is a bit sad about her parents' divorce. Her behavior starts to change, slowly at first, and then more dramatically. For much of the movie she is being put through various tests and then she is confined to bed. Linda Blair does fine with the part. From what I have read, Mercedes McCambridge provided the voice when Regan was possessed. Other performers also took over the part during certain sequences. Various doctors turn up in some scenes without any of them really standing out to me. People that work with Chris also turn up every so often.
Linda Blair - Regan
Ellen Burstyn - Chris MacNeil
Jason Miller - Father Karras
Max von Sydow - Father Mirren
I think there have been a few DVD versions of The Exorcist released. Mine is called The Version You've Never Seen and it is supposed to have extra scenes that were cut from the original release of the movie. The DVD does have some information about the movie, but it is all presented as text on the screen that has to be read. There aren't any featurettes or documentaries.
The Exorcist works very well as a scary, creepy movie and it still deserves to be seen. The movie does have some pacing issues, but it is still entertaining and worth watching.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age