Horror Classics Revisited – The Exorcist (1973)

I’ve always had a problem with this movie and have never agreed that it should be rated as highly as it is –  for instance Mark Kermode, a critic who I usually find myself in synch with, considers this to be the greatest horror film of all time. Not in my opinion it isn’t. Kermode may be a big time critic but as a humble viewer my opinion is just as valid.

I’m not saying it is a bad movie because it isn’t and it is effective as a horror movie even if we ignore the more exploitative scenes. The recorded animal sounds buried deep in the soundtrack work on an almost subliminal level and unsettle the viewer so that when the genuine shocks come they are all the more effective. It’s just that for the most part I find the film slow, pedestrian even and I do think it is far too dark for repeated viewings.

Rik Barker’s make up work is outstanding and the special effects are great – the scene where Regan levitates is terrific and the bit where she spews out pea soup like projectile vomit is genuinely unsettling. The low key photography gives the film an almost docu-drama feel which again makes the horror all the visceral.

So what’s wrong with it? Well, as I said earlier, I find it far too slowly paced and on times the film teeters on boredom, by the standards of modern horror movies it crawls along. Some of the editing seems bizarre in that scenes are amped up to hysterical levels and then cut abruptly to a more sedentary pace, leaving the viewer  confused. And there’s the fact that it’s  not aged as  well as it could have and very much feels like a product of its time.

Still if you’ve not seen it then you definitely need to, but if you go into it with knowledge of all the hype and legend you just may be disappointed.

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2 Responses to “Horror Classics Revisited – The Exorcist (1973)”

  1. I totally agree with this. Too much hype and controversy surrounds this film, so viewers already have this pre-conceived idea about its level of horror/scariness before they even watch it. The story is still a great concept and from this many other ‘exorcism’ films were born, but the book is far greater than the film.

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