The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin
Alright, let’s get this shit back on track…
There’s really nothing like sitting alone in a big, old theatre, and wondering if you’re going to make a total fool of yourself. The Exorcist, however, worms its way inside you; it provides a deep unease and an unsettling sense of horror, rather than jump scares.
I took notes throughout this viewing and I’m still not entirely sure how it actually works. It’s a slow burn, certainly - the film starts in the middle east, and stays there for what one would think is far too long. We then follow two characters, separately, who don’t meet up until halfway through. The titular event doesn’t come until the very end. But still, the pacing seems perfect for the film. It makes the shocking moments have an even greater impact. There are so many things about it that just seem unusual, it really keeps you feeling unbalanced.
Much of my horror comes from the state of medicine of the time period, intensified through the identification with the mother, and the extent to which she tries to deal with the situation rationally. Probably the biggest personal horror was that it almost convinced non-believer me that the situation was real and the exorcism necessary (hah). The spider-walk scene, as the telling sign that the daughter is possessed and not just mentally ill, is very effective (although the book version sounds even creepier - “In the book, the spider-walk is very quiet, and consists of Regan following Sharon around and occasionally licking her ankle” - that sentence gives me the howling fantods). What really struck me was how the realistic production effects (filming inside a freezer to make the actors’ breath visible, physically moving the actors using mechanics) lent so much weight to the images and effects.
I would like to watch this again and just pay attention to the sound. Plus, all of the bells in the score reminded me a little of Goblin/Suspiria (or is that just me?).
#169 - 7/28/2012