Tag Archives: The Exorcist

The Exorcist: Laaaaattttteeeeeeee Halloween

This is The Abyss, back from quite a long break. I had plans for some blogs and now I’m about to make good on those blogs. Think of this as my New Years resolution. And I’m here to bring all my fans the needed reviews they’ve been missing. Be ready for more anime, more movies, and hopefully more CD/music reviews. Without further ado, here we go.

This one’s an old Halloween classic from way back in the day. And by back in the day, I mean a day before my time, 1973. Telling you I watched this for the third or fourth time on Halloween just dates exactly when I last planned on blogging. (Never again will there be such a lag! I promise.) The Exorcist, I feel, is the quintessential and original possession/scary movie that is a staple and cornerstone for all other movies from then to now. I can’t think of a single film that hasn’t followed the plot or a similar one to The Exorcist. (I’d love to get into the Exorcism of Emily Rose, but that’s for another time, another style.) Let’s go through this, shall we?

First things first, it’s usually an innocent or pure soul (in this case an innocent little girl, Regan, AKA Linda Blair) but is not limited to innocent little girls. I’d say the basic requirements for a possessed soul is someone who believes or formerly believed in God (check out my blog review on The Rite) and there has to be an element of easy access subversiveness to the character. The helplessness degree of the character is quite important. And there always has to be a disbelieving, logical character that stands in the way of the evidence before them. (Alright, got that little analysis out of the way, correct or no.) Throughout the course of the film, the ideas of what is real and the truth of evil is revealed changing all those involved. And The Exorcist is what started it all.

So Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is the daughter of a burgeoning actress in the busy city of D.C., on a visiting acting job. Without any real presence of a father, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is left to raise a well behaved daughter with the constant chance of moving for other career opportunities. But there’s something that stops Mrs. MacNeil in her tracks in D.C. Without any warning or

The many horrific images of Regan (Linda Blair)

explanation (the only flaw that holds this film back) Regan comes down with what seems to be a disease. Doctors can’t explain it and psychiatrists blame it on some sort of psychosis. With the added addition of the unorthodox Father Karras (Jason Miller) and the loss of his dear old Italian Catholic mother, Karras must struggle with keeping his faith and logically saving a young girl’s life.

Okay, let’s talk about the beginning of this film. The archeological dig in Northern Iraq? Father Merrin’s part in this film doesn’t seem to connect, other than his experience and work with exorcisms. The artifact that Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) finds is clearly Devil-related, but does it in fact relate to the possession of Regan? Three times of watching that and the plot never really explained that. (Maybe I should watch Exorcist: Beginnings to explain it…) Other than that, we have the basis for the greatest and most prolific exorcism horror film of all time.

Explain this, mortal fools.

The acting… Let’s talk about the acting. Well, for starters, Linda Blair really gives it all she has for this role. Add the special effects, split pea soup, and human defying physical body effects, you got one terrifying little girl. And the things they make her say, it brings a tear to my eye to think the ruined childhood that Linda Blair must have had. Having to grow up so fast, dropping a few F-bombs and a genitalia slang here and there. That’s some mad props for a girl who knew what she was saying is bad morally, but gave it her all as she screamed it in multiple grown-up’s faces. Jason Miller (ironically named Damien… or is that the wrong timeline… did The Omen come before?…. Drat.) plays Damien Karras, a Father of the church. His acting is standard for the disbelieving role he must play, and his final scenes are performed with aplomb. And Max von Sydow was great with his performance of the exorcism. But, seriously, how old is that guy? He looks so old in this movie, and yet, he’s just as old looking in Minority Report. 30 year difference? I guess it’s possible in the realm of Hollywood.

So what more is there to say about this groundbreaker of horror? This movie pushed the boundaries with its R rating and graphic images of pure evil. The acting works, and, for some, (like my father) this movie still shakes them to the bone. With a movie like this that may have pushed thousands of people away from ever watching a movie like this again, this movie is really worth a watch or two. Or how about a Halloween tradition every year, just like the self-titled Halloween series. Who knows? It’s just important to know this origin of horror really deserves a 9.3 out of 10.

... Don't forget the face of evil...

Sidenote? Anybody going to see The Devil Inside? Let me know how it is with a comment on this post! If it’s good, I’ll check it out for myself!

 

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The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.