Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Essentials- The Exorcist (The Director's Cut) (1973)

The Essentials-#27

The Exorcist (The Director's Cut) (1973)
Many horror fans have seen or at least heard of "The Exorcist," but I wonder how many of them have gotten their hands on the director's cut? The image above belongs to the director's cut of the film and does not appear in the original version. It also happens to be impeccably creepy.

Even though director William Friedkin got it right the first time, the director's cut is an upgraded version of the story. "The Exorcist" was already an unbelievably effective horror film, a horror film Rob Zombie has quoted saying "that he knew people who saw 'The Exorcist' and had to go to therapy afterward." Actor Lance Henriksen from "Aliens" has said that he knew a friend who saw "The Exorcist" when it first came out, and that friend couldn't sleep alone by himself for months. I recently bought The 40th Anniversary blu-ray edition of "The Exorcist," which includes the director's cut and the original cut. For me, the director's cut is going to have a lot more playing time in my player than the original. The director's cut so vastly scarier and features more creepy touches. 

In the original film, I felt there were many times where the audience could relax, there lengths of that movie where nothing scary was happening and you could just sit and get to know the characters. That is tilted back a lot in the directors cut. There isn't a lot of time to relax in the director's cut, there are plenty more little touches that will get under your skin, scenes that will burn themselves into your mind and not let go. The infamous crab walk scene from above, absolute horror. 

And goodness gracious, but how would you like more time with that freaky demon face popping out at you more throughout the film? Usually jump scares don't get to me, but that damn demon face really creeps me out. 

All the actors really nail their parts and there is a reason why Linda Blair got so well-known after this movie. Its a relentless, bleak, unforgiving performance. For being so young, you got to give Blair credit for never shying away, for taking this whole thing seriously. If she didn't handle her performance with the maturity she evidently had, this film would have collapsed like a deck of cards. She seems energized by what Friedkin gave her to do and that really shows in her work.

Possession by demons was something that really scared me as a child. I was young when my parents were talking about "The Exorcist" once and when my brother mentioned that it was based on a supposed true event, I started crying...literally crying. I thought it was possible for me to be possessed, I thought I was going to be possessed and the idea terrified me deeply. Now that I am in my mid-twenties, I don't know how much I buy possession. I find myself conflicted about whether or not to believe the story this movie is based on. But those are just my personal beliefs, what I will argue any day is that evil comes in many different forms. "The Exorcist" is a bold, piercing reminder of how broad those forms can be and how evil can tempt the most innocent of people.

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