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A Hooked On Horror Review: The Exorcism

So fresh off The Pope’s Exorcist, you’d think Russell Crowe would’ve had enough of that sub-genre of horror; for a little while at least. But he’s back again in his latest film The Exorcism. In short, it follows the story of a washed-up actor trying to redeem himself through the means of this exorcist film titled Georgetown- “a psychological drama wrapped in the skin of a horror movie” as Adam Goldberg’s character states at a pre-production party in the film.

The Exorcism poster

Writers Miller & Fortin have wonderfully taken all that weird shit that was going on behind the scenes of films like The Omen and The Exorcist, for example, and just said, "Ye this could be its own film, let's run with it." And I’ll be honest, it was fun and it worked... I was relatively surprised with this one.

 A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he's slipping back into his past addictions or if there's something more sinister at play.

The film wastes no time getting into the swing of things and setting the tone for the rest of the film with an eery, creepy and somewhat intense opening sequence. Threw me off, wasn’t expecting it. I have yet to watch The Pope’s Exorcist, but after this I’ll be making time to watch it. Pace doesn’t seem to slow much from there with some wonderfully crafted, old school horror moments throughout with minimal jump scares. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t beat a good jump scare, but they can come off as cheap and tacky if overused or not done well. Luckily this film only featured a few, which were enjoyable.


Whilst the story brought nothing new, it offered something a bit different to other exorcism/possession films. Story is relatively straight forward; I did love the use of symbolism and the quick flash editing used during throughout. It’s an interesting story watching Crowe’s character try to redeem himself, his career, and his strained relationship with his daughter through this role. Miller (Crowe) has suffered disturbing trauma in the past that plays into the story and film quite well. Won’t go into detail, but the film and Crowe’s character and story arc seemingly go full circle to come to a reasonably satisfying conclusion.

Russell Crowe

And of course, there’s plenty in there to appease horror and exorcism fans- some great deaths, gnarly special effects and gore, decent possession scenes and a great voice for the demon. No masturbating with a crucifix or green vomit in this one though- sorry folks!

The film is reasonably well shot and pays homage to a lot of the greats that came before it. If the film makers were looking to emulate The Exorcist and its aesthetic, then they nailed it. Even down to the layout of the house set and the film scenes that are intercut throughout the film. Soundtrack was good and well suited and film. You can tell Kevin Williamson was involved, even as a producer. It’s very meta and tongue in cheek; nowhere near the same extent as the like of Scream though.

Cast were all great, loved Adam Goldberg’s Peter, who was directing the film. Unhinged and a bit of a dick if I’m honest. I know directors have got to push their cast sometimes to get the better performance, but Christ this guy needs to chill out on poor Anthony Miller (Crowe) sometimes. Sam Worthington gave a solid performance, was cool seeing him in a horror film as he’s not featured in many. Ryan Simpkins and Chloe Bailey were both great, had good chemistry between them. David Hyde Pierce was fantastic as Father Conor.

Ryan Simpkins & Chloe Bailey

Russell Crowe, for me, was something else in this. He’s a pleasure to watch in this film and commands every scene he’s in, I wouldn’t put this performance far off another of Crowe’s best- Ron Howard’s 2001 biographical drama A Beautiful Mind. He gives one hell of a performance in this, his character's lost everything and already battling various demons and addictions of his own whilst trying to save his career and strained relationship with his daughter. Then when he's at his most vulnerable, shit goes from bad to worse pretty quick. Much like Nic Cage, Crowe appears to be happy to lend his Academy Award Winning talent to films some may consider an odd choice for an actor such as himself, but this one's a win.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this is the best of the best when it comes to this sub-genre of horror, but it’s one of the better ones. An entertaining way to spend an hour and a half with some genuinely creepy moments. I am kind of itching to see more of Russell Crowe in horror heavy roles, let’s be honest he was one of the better parts of that disastrous Mummy film with Tom Cruise. This along with Late Night With The Devil have both been wonderful recently, especially after that sting The Exorcist: Believer.

The Exorcism is in cinemas now.


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