Father Merrin, a Catholic priest in Iraq, battles a demon, who later possesses a young girl (Regan) in Washington. Her mother gets worried when her daughter gets sicker. Medical care can't help her daughter and the death of a family friend has spawned the curiosity of a detective (William Kinderman), so she seeks religious help. She seeks out a priest (Father Karras) to exorcise her daughter's demon. Father Merrin and Father Karras perform the exorcism.
The Exorcist is a staple of every horror fan. Many believe this is one of the scariest movies ever made. The terrifying appearance of Regan, her eyes and voice, are enough to give most people nightmares. Her foul language makes some viewers feel a bit awkward in the context used here.
The story is easy to follow but it is a bit slow-paced for first half. It works for this movie because it provides us with a growing sense of evil that slowly consumes its victim. The character development of Regan and her mother allows us to see her mother's growing loss of hope due to her inability to help her child. We see Father Karras' on the verge of losing his faith to giving his life in the name of God.
Jason Miller plays Father Damien Karras, Ellen Burstyn plays Chris MacNeil, Max von Sydow plays Father Lankester Merrin, Lee J. Cobb plays Det. Lt. William F. Kinderman, and Linda Blair plays Regan MacNeil. The stars each do their own part to make a believable cast of characters.
The special effects are fantastic. There isn't much blood or gore but some parts are gross due to the context. The highlight is the exorcist head, which is plain old disturbing. The bed shaking, Regan levitating, the spider walk scene, and other effects help create more terror.
The music is perfect. Who can forget the theme song, Tubular Bells?
The atmosphere is indescribeable. The acting, visuals, music, and ideas portrayed all create a tour-de-force of creepy terror. William Friedkin does a great job as director.
The Exorcist is a classic horror film that will make you think about your life and life in general. Be sure to watch it!