HOLLYWOOD—Continuing our tradition to discuss those horror flicks that could be slightly underrated, this week’s discussion falls on a movie that is not underrated, but a bit overrated in my opinion. It is the 1973 classic “The Exorcist.” Some people have called the possession flick the scariest horror movie of all-time. Hmm, I think that might be a long shot. I will be the first to admit, this is a movie I didn’t see until 2014, yep, it wasn’t that I was afraid to watch the flick, I just never had much interest in seeing it.
One Friday night, it happened to be on Cable TV and I was interestingly glued to the screen. Was I clamored up on the couch with the lights on? Nope. Here’s what is enjoyable about “The Exorcist,” it’s a movie that is driven by its narrative. This isn’t a movie that just attempts to deliver scares; it has well-crafted characters that you care about. Not only am I talking about the exceptional Ellen Burstyn as Chris McNeil, but also Linda Blair and Jason Miller.
The supernatural thriller which was helmed by director William Friedkin is nuanced and well-crafted. The chaos does not just happen overnight, it’s a slow build-up. We have creepy scenes, and then we have those scenes that absolutely leave one wondering what the hell have I just witnessed. Of course I’m referring to Regan (Blair) coming down the stairs in one of the creepiest moments I’ve ever witnessed, not to mention that head turning moment.
“The Exorcist” is a horror film that relies on stunning the audience with a string of unbelievable situations. The notion of possession is something that has been widely debated in America, especially considering from all the tales we’ve heard about, these incidents have occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. This type of trauma unnerves the viewer and has resonated on a high note with America. I’ve said this time and time again; horror is best done with subtlety; not in your face blood and gore. No one wants to see that and if you do, what the hell is wrong with you? It’s what you don’t see that sends more chills down the spine than what it is that you do see.
The reason I don’t consider “The Exorcist” as a truly frightening horror flick is because I was able to go to sleep after watching the flick without being unnerved. Did the concept of possession creep me out, absolutely, but with a truly terrifying horror film it should be something that is so unnerving, it’s difficult to lay your head on the pillow at night. It makes you question what you do after watching the movie. This does not mean every horror flick you watch will immediately cause you to check the doors to ensure they’re locked.
I praise “The Exorcist” because not only is a damn good movie, it’s the first horror movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Yes, people can argue “The Silence of the Lambs” was the first to win the prize, but is that really a horror film or more of a psychological thriller. I’d go with the later. It’s important to note, “The Exorcist” is not a film for children, not at all.
I honestly think so many people were spooked by the flick because they saw it as a child and that trauma carried over into adulthood. For me, it was a flick I witnessed as an adult, so the impact of sheer terror is slightly below the bar in my opinion, but still a terrific flick to watch just in time for a great Halloween scare.