31 Days of Terror - 'The Exorcist'
Halloween is here, and so is our selection for the final film of '31 Days of Terror'. While this list isn't exactly in any sort of order, it just seemed fitting to end with a bang. My selection for the final film is William Friedkin's epic and legendary The Exorcist!
It takes a true master to create a film that still holds up by today's standards just as well as it did back in 1973 when it terrified audiences for the first time. William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's text is so well-made that it has spawned an absolutely insane quantity of imitators who have never quite been able to recapture the magic. Sure, there have been other good exorcist-related films, but none that ever match Freidkin's blood-curdling depiction of an ancient and insurmountable evil.
One of best things about this film is the set up and just how this film builds up to its brutal finale. There's something inherently terrifying about an ancient evil. Evil is much more scary when it's survived for basically an eternity. You wonder how something that is so good at being evil could ever be defeated. That's why the devil has been the subject of so many films, yet none of them convey it quite as believably as The Exorcist. This film's depiction of Lucifer is so unnerving, even to this day. My skin crawls every time Regan is used as a conduit to the devil, speaking and puking in inhumanly awful ways. If this film is still terrifying now, I bet it caused heart attacks back in 1973.
I also love the casting of Max Von Sydow as a weary high priest, Father Merrin. Sydow exudes such conviction in his performance that you totally believe that this man has seen demons and believes whole-heartedly in the devil. Jason Miller is also amazing as the skeptic priest, His character has such a tragic yet perfect arch. I also love how this film portrays good and evil. Despite how dark and scary this film is, it's still about how good always conquers over evil, even if the costs are as high as they could possibly be.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lalo Schifrin's iconic score. This ominous yet contagiously listenable score suits the film's sensibilities perfectly. The instantly recognizable track "Tubular Bells" alone makes this soundtrack download-worthy. The film is also shot expertly. Every time Friedkin lets us inside Regan's room, I feel like I'm no longer someone in the audience, but someone who is in the room, experiencing these horrors along with the characters.
The Exorcist is one of the best horror movies ever made and it's simply remarkable how well it has held up over the years. I mean, this film's over 40 years old! There's nothing dated about the movie in the least and the subject is still pertinent to what scares people today and what will continue to scare people for years to come.