The Power of Christ Compels You! - TopTenMM Horror Movies

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Nominee #1 - The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist

Young Regan is possessed by a sinister entity, following which, her mother seeks desperate aid from two priests.

Director: William Friedkin

Writers: William Peter Blatty (written for the screen by), William Peter Blatty (novel)

Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair

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There are great horror movies. And there are simply great movies.

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is both.

The first horror film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, the movie is based on William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel of the same name and stars Ellen Burstyn as the desperate mother (Chris MacNeil) of a young 12-year old girl (Regan; played by Linda Blair) possessed by a demonic spirit and Max von Sydow (Father Merrin) and Jason Miller (Father Karras) as the priests who try to perform the exorcism.

No zombies, no gore fest. Just the most masterful portrayal of the pain of the human condition and the disturbing question of how much faith is enough.

The wonderful dynamic between the younger priest, who is tortured by his own personal demons and the older priest, who is the battle-hardened exorcist is the backbone of the story. But the heart of the film is not so much the young girl assailed by the evil spirit, but her mother who is in utter despair as she grapples with so many unknowns in the process of finding a solution for her daughter.

No zombies, no gore fest. Just the most masterful portrayal of the pain of the human condition and the disturbing question of how much faith is enough.

Not known to most fans is the fact that Jason Miller had studied to become a Jesuit priest himself! Most of the relatively unknown cast were not first choices for the film. Their eventual selection was inspired and let the story and characterisation shine through without the distraction of heavy-weight stars.

The old priest in silhouette, stepping out of the taxi and looking up at the lit bedroom window of the possessed girl was not only an iconic shot that made it to the film poster, but also an indelible reminder of the battle between light and dark that every person must face within.

But this is a movie with an embarrassment of riches in terms of memorable dramatic scenes - the complete 360 degree turn of the young girl's head, the contorted spider-walk down the stairs, the violent vomiting right onto the startled priest's face, and the climactic final moments of the exorcism. And then there are those searingly intense silences.

Moving, unsettling, terrifying – The Exorcist is all of these things and more. It does not rely on conventional horror stereotypes, but instead frightens by the very normalcy of the setting in which the abnormal takes control. There is something raw about the pain uncovered here. Something sublime in the way light and dark, sound and silence are orchestrated to astonishing effect. That the emotional arc of this masterpiece ends on a message of hope makes this a truly wonderful and satisfying journey of the soul.

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