There are a lot of people who don’t find this movie scary. In particular, they don’t find this movie scary anymore. For me, I actually didn’t even find the film to be that scary when I first saw it as a wee-little viewer of horror. And, yes, it did take me 20 days to get to this film, which some would argue may just be the best work of horror of all time. Day 20 is dedicated to the ultimate supernatural film, the dynamic dance with the devil and the spider-walk; day 20 is “The Exorcist.”
Linda Blair’s name has become synonymous with the maniacal antics of her youthful, possessed character: Regan. In particular, a few of the scenes and behaviors became iconic elements in themselves: the 360 head turn, the spewing of vomit everywhere, the cross castration and the spider-walk to name a few. I’ve certainly heard a person or two say they’ll knock someone in the head hard enough that their head will spin like Linda Blair’s. And, even though these moments may seem small, they are part of what makes this film so incredibly strong and memorable. It doesn’t have the CGI that were used to, and it isn’t like one of the modern “shit-your-pants” scarefests like “Sinister” or “Insidious,” but it is an icon. And, at the time of its release, it certainly would have given either of those films a run for their money.
What makes this film so brilliant is the sense of disorientation you get throughout. The use of quick cuts, such as the demon face, and the jarring visuals create an unclean environment that shifts the viewer from their normal sense of security, privacy and purity. Even better, you begin to lose all sense of hope as the cast does the same. This film beats you down in ways that many others do not, which ultimately cements it at the top of nearly all horror film fans’ lists of the greats. The use of an exorcism also inspired many other films and film directors and producers. We wouldn’t see many of the supernatural powerhouses that we have today if “The Exorcist” hadn’t broke ground the day after Christmas in 1973.
This film will leave you asking the same question little, 12-year-old Regan does: “what’s wrong with me?” And that line will leave you feeling fearful and unclean for the rest of your day.