Plot: A little girl named Regan McNeil (Linda Blair) has been having some tough times of late, it seems her mental and physical health have been sliding in the recent past. But we’re not talking about a simple sore throat here, more like superhuman strength and intense projectile vomiting, which aren’t symptoms of the common cold, at least any strain we know of. After her mother tries all the medical options she can to cure the problems, she decides to go see a psychologist, who is also a man of the cloth, or a priest. This man is certain Regan has been possessed by an evil and demonic spirit, so unless she is freed soon, she could be killed in the process. This leads to a full on exorcism and of course, the demon has no plans to leave Regan without a fight, one that will push everyone involved beyond their normal limits. But is there hope to free Regan or is it already too late?
Entertainment Value: A horror movie that ignited the fury of an entire religion, The Exorcist was hailed as the scariest movie ever made and even now, remains a classic of the genre. As with horror movies, as time passes, the scares have softened somewhat, but this still holds up as an excellent movie and not just in the horror realm, but film in general. The movie has masterful build, using a slow burn start that quickly ramps up and crafts a tense, unsettling atmosphere, as Regan is pulled into a torrent of nastiness and horrific moments. The Exorcist is able to feel grounded as the tumblers start to line up, bolstered by some remarkable sound design choices, from the eerie music to the intense, disturbing sound effects that creep in. I’ve read a lot about little tricks used to make the movie more unnerving as well, from subliminal visual cues (such as the demon revealing itself for a split second) to horrific sounds from real life mixed in with the film’s sound effects. I admit The Exorcist spirals into madness, but this is a movie about demonic possession and while some scenes do have a b movie vibe, for the most part, the horror elements hold up well. The film pushes boundaries and makes some dark choices, so this remains a haunting experience and for me, one of the absolute true classics of the horror genre.
No nakedness. The movie does have a wild scene that involves a crucifix and a crotch, but it is less sexual than violent. The demon inside Regan also likes to talk dirty, but all the sexual content is verbal in this case. Unless you count nude statues, but I don’t think anyone does. As you’d expect with a demon involved, there is some violence and it can be rather nasty in nature, though not too graphic. That includes the crucifix crotch abuse I mentioned before, as well as some facial gashes, head spinning, slapping around, and tossing people about, all with the power of demonic energies. You also get to see a priest ground and pound a young girl, while the infamous pea soup vomit also appears and of course, Regan’s demonic makeup still looks solid. No blood involved, but the medical scenes are eerie and unsettling as well, so in the general horror creepiness realm, The Exorcist more than delivers. The dialogue is serious and well written, with the demon as the source of the wildest, most memorable lines. The taunts and outlandish banter from the demon can be quite fun, adding some unnerving, shocking humor in the midst of the eeriness. There’s also effective religious lingo and proclamations, as you’d expect given the subject matter. In terms of craziness, we have all the demonic chaos, the subliminal messages, the unsettling creepiness that seeps throughout, the rumors of curses and actual demons, and the unintentional humor from some of the more ridiculous moments, so there’s some solid insanity in this one.
Overall Insanity: 6/10