“The power of Christ compels you!”
It certainly does… In fact, whatever power compels audiences to see 1973’s The Exorcist has endured for an incredible five decades now.
That’s right, if you can believe it, December 26th 2023 marks 50 years since The Exorcist hit screens and changed cinema forever.
Upon its release, the film became an instant sensation, pushing boundaries never broached on-screen and shocking an entire generation.
In a time when the horror genre’s mainstream releases still consisted of gothic castles and green monsters, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist brought the terror inside a very normal looking suburban home.
The Exorcist challenged audiences in ways a film never had before, forcing them to investigate the very depths of their faith and question what they believed, if they believed in anything at all. Despite all the spinning heads, green vomit and swearing, at its core, that is why The Exorcist was so terrifying.
Outside of challenging audiences, the film dared touch on subjects that were largely one-sided when portrayed in movies, such as belief in God. The Exorcist wasn’t afraid to call into question that belief system, some crediting the film for letting them know its okay to have differing beliefs.
All that from a horror film? Indeed, that is the brilliance of The Exorcist, how it subtly gets inside your head, as well as getting viscerally under your skin.
Of course, the exceptional effects work, phenomenal performances and impeccable directing cannot be understated either. With all of this, it’s little wonder we’re still talking about The Exorcist fifty years later, it deserves that honour and then some.
Will we still be talking about this genre-changing picture in another five decades? Most likely.
Of course, as a film franchise The Exorcist continues to endure today, even if it can never pass the momentous cultural significance of the original. Most recently, David Gordon Green brought us The Exorcist: Believer, a direct sequel to mark the fiftieth anniversary. Original stars Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn returned, and despite a middling critical reception, the film became the most successful next to the 1973 original.
So, we’ll likely be remembering The Exorcist and getting a lot more content bearing that name for many years to come. Happy Anniversary!