The Exorcist was considered for a long while to be the scariest film ever made. Now today that can be a subject for debate, there is no denying the cultural significance this film has gathered over the years. It has been chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2010. The film was also nominated for ten Academy Awards in 1974, and it won 2 for best adapted screenplay as well as best sound mixing. Horror films never get this type of praise or attention, especially today.
The film follows an actress named Chris MacNeil played by Ellen Burstyn, in the middle of shooting a movie. She is accompanied by her daughter Regan MacNeil played by Linda Blair. The two of them get along great amidst Regan’s absent father and her mother’s demanding work schedule. Their loving relationship takes a turn though when Regan shows signs of possession, which Chris rationally thinks is a psychiatric disorder. After many grueling tests she finally caves and asks a reluctant priest to perform an exorcism.
Father Damien Karras is my favorite character in the film. The story brilliantly parallels his own demons he must face while battling an actual demon. He eventually becomes an assistant (but not sidelined) to an older more experienced priest, Father Merrin. Father Damien is played by Jason Miller and Father Merrin is portrayed by the legendary Max von Sydow. Their dynamic is what makes the film hold up all these years, along with groundbreaking special effects and a perfectly adapted story. This film will scare the here out of you, while also making you think about what true evil is.