Review by Eric
I decided to do a classic scary movie since it was my turn review a movie just after Halloween. I picked “The Exorcist” because many still hold the view that this is the scariest movie of all time, even though it is forty years old.
The film starts with ten minutes of boredom. It starts at an archeological dig in northern Iraq. These first ten minutes are almost in complete silence and when there is some dialogue it is subtitled because no one speaks English. What is the most frustrating for me is that this dig doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the film. They do make the connection that the demon that is found in Iraq is the same one that possesses the girl, but did we REALLY need ten minutes of complete torture to make the connection? We also find out later that not only is this the same demon, but the priest on the dig ends up being the same priest that conducts the exorcism, but once again this connection is not needed.
Once the movie actually starts, which is still at a snails pace, we discover that Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), an actress, is staying in Georgetown with her daughter and two servants (yes they actually use that word) while she is filming a new movie. We finally find out that Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), Chris’ daughter, spends her free time playing with a Ouija board and has an unseen friend named Captain Howdy. Sounds harmless enough, right?
Hopefully every Christian knows the danger of Ouija boards. I used to blow it off as silly superstition, I mean they are made by Milton Bradley, how real can it be? I think the realism comes in with your intent. If you truly want to speak with spirits, you may just get what you want, or what you think you want. The Bible is full of verses against divination and sorcery which is exactly what you are doing by using a Ouija board. Galations 5:19-21 says, “19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” When you use a Ouija board you definitely open yourself up to bad things, of which the possibility of demonic possession.
Not long after her mother saw nothing wrong with playing with this Ouija board Regan begins to act weird. She is cursing, urinating on the carpet, and having other odd behavior. I did find it interesting that in the early 1970s when the film was made the doctors continued to want to pump the young girl full of drugs and run dangerous tests on her, but told Chris it would be totally useless for her to seek out a psychiatrist. Even back then doctors were over medicating our children, I had no idea I went it back that far.
The Exorcist is where we see the origins of the cliché of the young troubled priest and the old wise priest. Father Damian Karras (Jason Miller) is the priest that Chris finds when all of the drugs aren’t working. She convinces Fr. Karras to come to the house and investigate if her daughter needs an exorcism. Which, of course, she does. Fr. Karras gets approval from his bishop and they appoint Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) to lead the exorcism and Fr. Karras will assist. After some of the funniest things to come out of a demons mouth and some levitation and vomit (which is humorous as well) the priests take a break. When Fr. Karras returns he finds Fr. Merrin is dead. He is over come by anger and asked the demon to come into him and then jumps out of a window and dies. The end. Worst ending of a horror movie ever! First of all the demon won! That would never happen! You could pull the sacrifice card and say that Fr. Karras sacrificed himself for Regan, but what about the fact that Christ sacrificed himself for us and this would not allow a demon, or Satan for that matter, to win.
I’m now going to discuss some of the other things that bug me with this film. The MacNeil family isn’t Roman Catholic. A Roman Catholic priest would not conduct an exorcism on a non-Catholic. In fact many people may not realize that this film is based on a real exorcism. A lot of things were changed for the film though, it was actually a young boy, who they called “Robbie”, from Saint Louis. Also he was a Lutheran and the parents sought out their Lutheran pastor who tried to conduct an exorcism and was unsuccessful. He advised the family to seek out a Roman Catholic priest, because they have more experience with exorcisms. Guess what, that priest made the boy convert to Roman Catholicism before he would do the exorcism. The priest was successful and no one died. Click here to check out a recent Yahoo! news article on the subject. I would also suggest the book “Exorcism: Fact or Fiction” by Dr. Ken Olson a Lutheran pastor and exorcist.
I also found the face of the demon that randomly flashes on the screen for a split second to be scary only because it reminded me Jambi, the genie from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Overall I this movie isn’t very scary. It is in no way the scariest movie of all time. It probably was in 1973 when it was first released, but compared to modern horror movies it can’t hold a candle. Everyone should see this film, but only because it is a classic.
This movie isn’t for kids due to a lot of language and few gruesome scenes. It is Rated R and I give it 2/5.