(1973, Dir. by William Friedkin.)
Why It's Here:
There is not a movie that I am more fascinated by than The Exorcist. Justifying why I love it is always a challenge, because it's one of those movies that is so revered that there's barely anything left to say about it. But then I watch it, and the littlest things jump off the screen at me. Like the tortured look in Jason Miller's eyes, or the visible breath rolling off the characters during the final assault, or how wonderfully perfect Linda Blair's delivery of "You're gonna die up there" to a random freaking astronaut is. It is the rare kind of movie where I could just pick any scene and ramble about it with love.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
Speaking of, it's impossible to pick one moment in The Exorcist that shakes me - because there are at least a dozen. It could be that staredown between Father Merrin and the statue or it could be when Regan freaks out on a dinner party or it could be when Father Karras goes into the room after he realizes what he must do. It's probably the spinal tap - I cry like a baby when that scene happens - but I'm not willing to commit to that. There are countless mind-melting moments in this movie.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Like most great horror movies, The Exorcist inspired a lot of imitators. However, it's the rare film that didn't really inspire many good imitators in its day. Thankfully, the exorcism genre has had a nice resurgence in the last several years, led by the dynamite indie hit The Last Exorcism a couple of years ago. Mixing a little bit of Exorcist with the found footage formula and a dose of Hammer films, it's one of the creepiest films I've seen in a while. I don't know if it really belongs in the same conversation as The Exorcist - but only because I don't know if anything really belongs in the same conversation as The Exorcist.
What It Means To Me:
What It Means To Me:
I am a Christian, and I've at times wondered if I feel a closer connection to The Exorcist because of that. But the more I watch this movie, the more I realize that anyone who would let their feelings about religion get between them and such a perfect horror movie is acting ridiculously. This is good against evil, and if you don't believe in that - I don't know how you can believe in horror. The Exorcist moves me, but there's no reason it shouldn't move anyone who realizes that a young girl turning into a dead thing that spouts obscenities and harms herself is something they don't want in the world. It's a horror epic that demands - and deserves - all the respect it can get.