When approaching an older film, it is ideal to remember how it functioned for its time and continues to function over the years. The Exorcist (Dir. William Friedkin) is one of the classics—moving horror films forward with its cultural significance. Easily one of the most significant horror films of its time (1973), The Exorcist left people sick and terrified. To this day, I can understand why. Though I sat through the film relatively comfortably, the imagery and visual storytelling were disturbingly compelling. Watching for the first time in 2023, accustomed to more jump scares and violence, I did not end the film haunted or afraid. However, certain scenes and unanswered questions inspired some dark rumination.
What I believe bothers most people now about this movie is the pace, the exposition felt particularly long, especially by today’s standards. The audience is given very little information but is shown quite a lot. For instance, the beginning of the film contained very little dialogue and demonstrated (in the context of the entire plot) very little detail regarding the antagonist. There are other small moments in the plot that seem random, leaving plenty of room for interpretation (i.e., the scratching). However, what bothered me the most was also what I appreciated the most: the way the writer, William Blatty, hid away some of the scariest content. He focuses on consequences rather than choices, providing as little context as possible while being able to lead the audience through the story. Thus, the audience is forced to reach their own conclusions and frighten themselves.
Undoubtedly, The Exorcist has made a significant impact on the horror genre, igniting an entire subgenre dedicated to possession. Does this mean the film holds up? Arguably so, even if it’s a bit slower-paced for the modern audience. To me, the cultural significance, initial impact, sharp imagery, and laissez-faire storytelling make this film timeless. Ultimately, I would describe The Exorcist as thought-provoking and eerie, but it won’t be keeping me up at night.
At four years old, R.F. Greer wrote, directed, and starred in her first film titled, “Princess Asleep.” Since then, she has been a storyteller of many colors, honing her skills at North East School of the Arts in San Antonio, TX, and earning the Co-Editor position of their literary magazine “After Midnight” before graduating. In a gap year, Rhiannon wrote two feature films, maintained a website, and recorded poetry. In college, she was published in the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s literary magazine “Phoenix” and her book of poetry, “The Habit of Breaking Routine,” on Amazon Kindle. At the same time, she continues to earn her bachelor’s in Psychology and work full-time.