The Exorcism Movie Review |

The Exorcism revolves around an out of work actor Tony Miller (Russell Crowe), who after battling alcoholism and drug abuse, gets a chance to win stardom again after landing the lead role in a horror film. The film-within-the-film being shot is essentially a variation of William Friedkin’s influential 1973 classic The Exorcist. It’s even titled The Georgetown Project, a nod to the setting of The Exorcist. Furthermore, the opening scene of The Exorcism reveals that The Georgetown Project centres on a priest with a crisis of faith, summoned to exorcise a demon from a teenage girl, with the set being a near replica of the iconic house from The Exorcist.

There are urban legends abound stating paranormal activity being witnessed on the sets of horror films. The director takes his clue from that and offers moments which have no explanation. But the film goes deeper than that. It’s alluded to that Miller was abused by a priest as a child. So playing a priest in itself proves traumatic to him. Add to the presence of a real-life priest, Father Conor (David Hyde Pierce) and the situation gets worse. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t get along with his 16-year-old daughter Lee (Ryan Simkins), who has run away from boarding school after an altercation with her principal over gay rights. Lee gets involved with her father’s co-star Blake Holloway (Chloe Bailey), who plays the demon-possessed girl in the film. Bogged down by his insecurities and also the fact that his director (Adam Goldberg) is an unfeeling jerk, he takes to drinking again. But more is at play here. It may not be just the alcohol which is consuming him. He might be the victim of demon possession himself…

It looks like the director Joshua John Miller set out to make a psychological horror, segued into paying a homage to The Exorcist and then breaks for a full-blown horror film treatment towards the end. Incidentally, Miller’s father Jason Miller played one of the protagonists, Father Damien Karras, in the original film. So there’s a lot of subtext at play here. Sam Worthington plays Karras here, in a brief, brief role. The Exorcism faithfully copies moments from its parental film, including that of the priest jumping from a high-storeyed window and offering to sacrifice his life for another.

Do you really need to show an actual demon in a film about a protagonist dealing with his inner demons? Russell Crowe, who has played an exorcist earlier in The Pope’s Exorcist (2023), seems as clueless as the rest of us. But you don’t stop being an Oscar-winning actor even in the face of bad material. So he gamely plays on and provides another bravura performance. But even the best actor in the world can’t exorcise the demons of a badly written script. No amount of low light camerawork (that begs another question – why doesn’t anyone turn on a light switch in this film?) or jump scares will work if the actual exorcism scene is weak and doesn’t frighten the audience.

The Exorcism film does fan service to horror film buffs, especially those who consider The Exorcist to be the greatest-ever horror film. Watch the film to see how a great actor can still perform even in the midst of faded glory…

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