1973. Directed by William Friedkin
Considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, The Exorcist is a complex film that blends elements of horror, paranoia, regret, and sacrifice to deliver a truly unique experience.
On the surface, it's a a story about the cosmic struggle between good and evil, but it's in the dark corners of the film, in the cracked faces and souls of it's characters, that it's real purpose is revealed.
William Friedkin put everything into this film. Using some of the most inventive techniques and effects available at the time, Freidkin's command of everything is almost orchestral. Every line, every emotion, every horrifying sequence is delivered with a rare sense of urgency that doesn't outpace itself throughout.
Owen Roizman brings Georgetown to life with classic 70's panache by presenting a world that is lived in and used up, much like Ellen Burstyn's powerful performance as Regan's mother. The effects are mind bending when you consider what was available. Marcel Vercoutere is a master of the unseen, being able to use simple tricks to invoke blood curdling supernatural forces.
This film is not for the squeamish. The legendary spider crawl scene is enough to make you lose sleep if horror is not your genre. Regan's twisted transformation and the various body horror accouterments that follow are the very fabric of nightmares.
The troubled production of the film, combined with unexplained phenomenon such as the set catching on fire and Ellen Burstyn being seriously injured during one take only served to increase the film's legend that continues to live on today.
Max Von Sydow's iconic Father Merrin and Jason Miller as Father Karras deliver the perfect Holy duo. The true, world weary believer and the doubting Thomas, and it's their chemistry, their ability to communicate their personal turmoils in the midst of the eponymous exorcism that carry the film.
All of these elements combine to deliver a film that begins as a typical supernatural thriller and transforms into a story of the hardships of being a parent and a child, while ultimately being a profound statement on the nature of love and sacrifice.
William Peter Blatty, a devout Catholic who wrote the novel and screenplay famously stated that he believed the film was a tribute to God and he sincerely hoped that viewers would find that message upon it's conclusion.
In the end, regardless of faith or belief, you can't help but believe that good, the Light, and love will always conquer all.