The Exorcist Extended Director's Cut (DVD)
- Reviewed by: joecooler2u
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It all begins with an archeology dig that frees a long-trapped demon into the world. Back in the United States little girl, Regan (Linda Blair - Airport 1975, Scream) is possessed by the evil entity taking the once lively child and turning her into a hideous monster. Her mother, actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn - The Last Picture Show, W.) grows more concerned as Regan’s descent into evil rapidly approaches leaving the kind-hearted, loving daughter behind as the demon takes over her body threatening to ruin the child forever. Chris, fearing for her daughter’s soul calls in two priests, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller - Rudy, Toy Soldiers) doubt-ridden and the other, Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow - Minority Report, Rush Hour 3, Shutter Island) a rock of faith to try and free her daughter from the evil spirit by performing an exorcism.
The Exorcist once scared me for much different reasons than it does now. Obviously the transformation of Regan is horrendous and terrifying to watch, but what spooks me now is more the underlying symbolism that is ever-present. One, that innocence can be harmed, targeted, for no apparent reason. Two, that for good to be real, so does evil. Three, that something could take over our bodies and cause us to act and do things that we would never do otherwise. For me, what hit home most was seeing someone good transformed into pure evil. That, in itself can represent so many different things - one being the natural changes caused when a child grows up.
The story by William Peter Blatty, based on his book of the same name is startling and very much ahead of its time. Symbolism, whether intended or not, runs rampant here from the previously mentioned corruption of innocence. From Father Karras doubting his faith because of his terminally ill mother to the helpless mother who can’t save her daughter so she turns to a doctor and then the priests for help. There is something frightening about the mixture of children with religion as you see with this movie and others like The Omen or Children Of The Corn. Maybe it’s the representation of how cruel both can be at times and yet how both can be innocent and loving. It’s the duality of the nature of both that makes each a perfect marriage in this movie.
The soundtrack is eerie from the very beginning, letting us know we are in for a creepy ride, yet at times being eerily silent to contrast with the louder moments. From the haunting original music by Jack Nitzsche to the new music by Steve Boddacker the film has a foreboding sense where the sounds are concerned yet also knows when to be eerily silent. The music is just as spooky as it was in my youth.
Actors Linda Blair and Jason Miller give outstanding performances. Linda Blair showing range and emotion along with abilities most adult actors couldn’t pull off. Miller showing a depth of a troubled character who is unsure of his faith after suffering through his mother’s terminal illness. Their scenes together are simply magical in its simplicity as well as how perfect they played off of one another. Max von Sydow completed the mix for most of the exorcism scenes as he played the perfect part of a priest who is solid as a rock in his faith, his belief in God and his belief that Regan can be freed from the evil inside her. Sydow and Miller really made the sum better than the individual parts with their performances, seeming to complete what the other lacks at any given moment. Not to be outdone by the outstanding trio, Ellen Burstyn gives a fine performance as the suffering mother who finds herself unable to help her daughter. Ultimately, it all comes back to Blair’s performance that belies years and abilities that such a young actress should not have been able to muster for such a role.
Cinematography by Owen Roizman is simple yet eerily effective. Zooming in when needed for closeups and zooming back to show Chris’s feelings of utter confusion at the dining room table during a scene with the detective Kinderman. Subtle use of filming at the bottom of stairs throughout the film leaves the viewer with an overwhelmed feeling, symbolically resembling the overwhelmed feelings each of the character was feeling. The scene where Linda Blair hovers over the bed is no less mesmerizing all these years later and is beautifully shot as is the progression of Merrin’s ghastly pale face compared with Karras’s rosy red cheeks.
Director William Friedkin does a masterful job of marrying an amazing story, stunning cinematography and pulling top-notch performances out of each of his actors. Given the time-period in which this film was made it could have easily been a shoddy film that is completely forgetful yet it is exactly the opposite. Stunning and memorable, yet just as frightening, amazingly even more so with the extra footage Friedkin made one of the best horror films of all-time. Easily in most critics and fans’ top 10 horror films of all-time.
Ultimately, The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut is a fascinating film that even improves on the classic film with added scenes that enhance and improve the overall quality. It is so good you don’t even need to be a horror fan to enjoy this as it will appeal to those who are religious and other mainstream fans. This is one film you don’t even need to rent. It’s a must-buy on DVD. The power of Christ compels you!
Special Features -
- Commentary by Director William Friedkin
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV & Radio Spots
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