October is here, which means it’s time to dive into some horror I’ve missed out on! I figure there’s no better time than now to see 1973’s possession film The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin. Your spoiler meter should be reading roughly 43 years.
Where I'm Coming From & What I Expect
The last movie I saw was Blade Runner so I’m not expecting to be any more uplifted during this viewing than my last. I don’t think this movie will have any of the wacky bits to offset the darkness like Blade Runner had though, so I’m expecting a much more even tone. And speaking of movies based on books, it looks like sci-fi isn't the only genre turning to print for inspiration.
How does that relate, one might ask? This movie is based on the 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. They didn't waste any time giving it the Hollywood treatment. Angela is joining for this viewing so I anticipate she'll have a bad time since she hates possession movies.
While I think the tone is going to be even I expect that the pacing will be slower since we’re working with a two hour run time. I’m hoping the effects will look really good and gritty since there was no CG available to make everything look shiny and plastic. I don’t think I’m familiar with any of the actors but that might make it better. I’m betting there’s a possessed little girl, a lot of screaming, some puking scenes, and a lot of invoking Jesus. I’m also hoping there’s going to be some bad possession ADR.
What I'm Bringing
I’ve gone with a repeat and I’m bringing another gin and tonic to the table. This time I planned ahead so a box of Trader Joe’s cookie butter cookies are also joining. Angela’s decided she needs something to help her make it through the movie so she’s chosen the easy refill option – wine.
I like that instant tension building with the intro music. Unfortunately it's lost pretty quick and now we're in Iraq digging. Probably trying to find those WMDs everyone was looking for. At least it looks a lot better since we hadn't showed up yet. There's an interesting Indiana Jones vibe and I'm not surprised to see an old white guy in charge. We didn't invent non-white guys until much later.
Too bad they didn't have the movie research we have now to tell them you never take things out of the ground unless you want horrible things to happen. This is made abundantly clear when he looks at that devil head rock. The combination of a bunch of people standing around staring, fighting dogs, and a big devil statue make it pretty clear the old man should take the hint and get out.
An abrupt change to Georgetown kills all suspense. At least we're now in a setting I was expecting for the movie. Just like my research taught me to expect, there is awful wallpaper and decor everywhere. Classic move showing the open window and billowing drapes. "Sure do love you," is an actual line of dialogue. I'm now very worried for what's ahead.
The house staff is white so at least that's not super racist, although is this better than casting no people of color at all? Angela just informed me the lead actress is the mom from Requiem for a Dream. It was hard to tell, she's a lot younger in this.
The airplane noise blocking out the conversation she's seeing in passing is unnecessarily loud. They are flying so low it could have well been the inspiration for Sully, except the Washington DC version unfortunately didn't have a happy enough ending to cast Tom Hanks in a retelling.
I don't know why we're watching the sad priest visit his mom. At least they cast someone who is believably Greek to play an old Greek woman. Now they just cast first and figure out how to make the actor fit afterward, unless I'm mistaken.
This is the most casual Ouija board introduction, even though they're kicking off what will become an overused story device. Guys, Ouija boards are not a joke! All kidding aside, their portrayal of a single mother actress in the 70s feels progressive. Not only that but two of the leading cast are female, so some kudos to everyone involved for going against the grain.
It seems like we're now getting to the good stuff. That noise in the attic clearly isn't a rat, and if movies of the future will tell you, never go investigate by yourself. But really, old attics can be dangerous as hell.
It's good to see a black woman as a regular nurse at this metal hospital, though demographics would indicate we should have already seen more than just one black person. I feel like we've missed something because I have no idea why Damien's (sad priest) mom is suddenly in a mental hospital. Also, I had no idea priests smoked so much. I guess cigarettes are still all the rage.
That random threat from her daughter kind of shut down the party. Is this not a textbook sign of early onset possession? Telling her to take her pills and she'll be fine might not be the message you want to send. This bucking bed effect leaves a little to be desired.
I'm glad doctors now have to smoke outside instead of right in the hallway while giving a diagnosis. I swear movies bring out the smoke detector in me. She only had one night of problems and now I'm looking at a needle big enough to come from Wolverine's hand. At least medical technology has made some significant advances; they should all be wearing ear protection to operate that x-ray machine. After the movie all these scanning devices and the airplane from earlier should go get the loudest drink ever.
Clearly she's not having spasms. That is straight up possession. The possession voices are a little underwhelming but that was to be expected. The voicing is at least better in every conceivable way than this bullshit.
Angela is really not having a good time now.
A phantom phone call and flickering lights really give away that the issue is supernatural. If only they knew who could fix their issue, and maybe who to avoid. Open window and billowing drapes again. This time I suspect it's not going to be as light of a scene. Just found out the director's name was Burke. Yes, I recognize I have a problem but at least I'm not alone.
This psychiatrist seems to be the only one who has a reasonable explanation, although it'd be a stretch to say multiple personalities could account for everything that's happened...anyone remember the loud attic noises earlier? But really, I'd place my bet on maybe possession and multiple personalities being the same thing.
I'm not even religious and I wouldn't even be that upset if I found a cross under my possessed daughter's pillow. I just now realized it was the girl who pushed Burke out the window and killed him. It might be slightly inappropriate and unprofessional to ask for an autograph while investigating a murder.
Holy (no puns allowed) shit this is the absolute greatest possession scene I've ever watched! "Let Jesus fuck you," is now my favorite ridiculous movie line. Not only that but it's followed by cross on crotch action and telling mom to lick it, which must have been a Cards Against Humanity pairing at some point. Don't worry, I won't link to the scene, but it's really not hard to find. They're really making this girl say a lot of aggressively sexual stuff. She's really turned her dialogue delivery around from earlier. There is no way this scene would be made today.
A little pause break at Angela's request.
It didn't take much to turn Damien onto the idea of exorcism. He doesn't really seem bothered all that much by this possession, but that might be because it's not really that uncommon to encounter. It took me 90 minutes to finish a drink which is a personal best by far. This exorcism is so intense I forgot to drink. Again, making this poor actress say very aggressive sexual stuff. More puke!
Angela is done. I'm now going it alone.
Her levitating off the bed looks great. I think these effects have aged pretty well. All that effects practice really paid off. Still, terrible possession speaking. And if they say, "The power of Christ compels you," one more time I am going to lose my damn mind. Now that the demon is imitating Damien's mother I appreciate so much of the backstory. I know how writing works, I swear.
Old priest Merrin goes all way to Iraq to dig up devil rocks, comes back without the burden of PTSD, and ends up getting killed by a demon back at home. That's some super bummer luck. They're really escalating the death factor at the end.
In what becomes a pretty popular horror movie closing scene, this family is packing up and getting out of town. Smart move, but it won't erase the trail of bodies your daughter left behind.
Damn I hope I age this well. I can see why this is a staple to the genre and I wish I'd had this on my horror rotation long ago. I only have some minor issues with some of the weak family dialogue and unconvincing ADR possession speaking, but everything else that happens makes those issues inconsequential. I would recommend this with two five-five star thumbs up, although you've probably already seen it.