Original release: December 26th, 1973
Running time: 122 minutes
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow and Linda Blair
What is it about horror that makes us enjoy it so much? Why are we so drawn to it? We can easily show a negative reaction to a bad horror film when we don’t feel the fear or terror, but a true horror film introduces us to our fears. A true filmmaker then knows when, where and how to scare his or her audience.
For me, true horror is when a dialogue or a specific scene psychologically affects our mind and leaves us thinking that we’re with the characters and in danger as much as they are. True horror is when we feel the suffering through the dialogue. Hitchcock once said “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” When we suffer by watching a horror film, it means we’re in an emotional state; horror is emotion.
The Exorcist‘s story centres on a possessed teenage girl, Regan (Linda Blair) and her mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), who seeks the help of two priests to save her. Released long before I was born, it affected audiences so strongly that at many theatres paramedics were called to treat people who fainted and others who went into hysterics. The first time I saw it was a few years ago and it changed the way I look at horror films today.
I remember my palms were sweating, I was sitting alone and it was a cold evening. The only sound in the room was the ticking of the clock and the voices coming from the television. I don’t scare easily but a true horror film should be convincing and believable. I have to suffer and relate to the tension of the characters and this was one of the things I found The Exorcist excelled at.
After the credits rolled and I went to bed, there was nothing supernatural bothering my thoughts. It was my imagination. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. The next day I was told by family members that I was moaning in my sleep. I asked ‘define moaning.’ They said, it sounded like I was in some kind of a trouble. I smiled. My mother told me if such film disturbs me, perhaps I should cease watching them.
It’s an interesting and memorable film not only because of its direction and performances, but because of its message. The Exorcist also explains to us the concept of good and evil and the evaluation of the relationship that humanity has with God.
While looking at it I wonder where the beauty of horror genre is today. I see only a few filmmakers who’ve made some good horror films, so is the horror genre going to disappear? In my opinion, it has already disappeared due to overexposure and the abundance of so much atrocious material. What’s still fortunate is we do have some filmmakers who pay homage and touch on the beauty of horror once in a while.
The Exorcist remains as one of the best horror films ever and a film you might not want see alone. So if you’re looking for a scare, then my advice is when your clock needle is pointing to 9pm sharp and when you are alone, pull the curtains down, insert disc and press play.
Rohan is the lead US correspondent for Static Mass. Graduating from High School in Atlanta, Georgia in 2003, Rohan fell in love with the environment of the cinema hall and moving images on the big screen, watching Bollywood, American and Iranian films.
As an aficionado of film noir, mysteries, drama and thrillers, he enjoys the films of Alfred Hitchcock, M.Night Shyamalan, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. Engrossed by the originality of his favourite filmmakers it opened a door for him to take on writing scripts as well.
The reverence of directors, actors, stories, art and cinema allows him to experience films with an open mind and leads him to believe strongly in the correspondence of films with the occurrences of the real world.