“The Exorcist” is certainly one of the scariest movies ever made, though it’s perhaps one of the most overrated, too. People tend to forget the boring Middle-Eastern opening sequence that has little bearing on the rest of the film, and remember only the projectile vomiting.
The re-release, which has nine minutes of additional footage and a beefed-up audio track, does not improve upon the original. None of the additions really add much to the film, and it could be argued that some of them — like the final scenes — even detract from it. Certainly that opening sequence didn’t need to be made any longer than it already was.
For a generation that didn’t see “The Exorcist” when it first came out, seeing it now may or may not impress them. The story of young Regan (Linda Blair), possessed by the devil — much to the distress of her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and the puzzlement of the Catholic church — was shocking in 1973 and still has some shock value now. Hearing the devil’s voice emanate from a young girl will always be a little unsettling, no matter how desensitized we’ve become from watching “A Nightmare on Elm Street” over and over again.
On the other hand, it’s not the sort of thriller today’s movie-goers are accustomed to. There’s no chainsaw-wielding maniac, no “who’s the killer?” suspense, and several scenes that serve to establish character (i.e., they don’t have any action in them) probably felt too long in 1973, too. With a running time of more than two hours, it’s also quite a bit longer than most horror movies of today.
For those who saw it back in the ’70s, though, this is a great chance to see it and get scared all over again. The sound is fantastic in theaters, and nothing can duplicate the effect of seeing something on the big screen — especially something as potentially terrifying and soul-scorching as this. See it with someone you love, whose arm you can grip when things get chilling.
B+ (2 hrs., 11 min.; )