It’s been a rather possessed August. When personal misery overwhelms, a supernatural/horror obsession is something of an anodyne. Don’t ask me why.
I’ve been reviewing criticism of ‘The Exorcist’ and its sequels, reading interview after interview with William Peter Blatty, Linda Blair, William Friedkin and others involved in the most amazing and frightening film ever made.
And you know what? Many fine minds are weighing in – from this excellent podcast, to this academic who, to my delight, is providing analysis and criticism on the recent wave of exorcism themed films. I wrote a lot about this recent wave of films when this blog was on Open Salon.
MY not so fine mind has yet to be heard. So I too will go through each film in the – ugh – franchise. My opinions will draw much ire and criticism.
But I won’t make you wait for the final verdict. Below is how I rank the films in the series.
At No. 1, of course, nothing will ever match the precise storytelling and film-making artistry of The Exorcist.
I may even have ranked it lower, but at No. 2 goes The Version You’ve Never Seen, which adds in some over-didactic cut footage and attempts cheap shock by morphing in the horrific Captain Howdy face all over the place, thereby lessening its power to frighten.
At No. 3 comes Exorcist 3, which is an amazingly frightening and expertly told thriller, if one ignores the shoehorned and awkward exorcism sequence, unwanted by director and Exorcist creator William Peter Blatty.
At No. 4, I say Dominion, which was an original and meaningful attempt at a prequel to the original, despite its problems.
At No. 5, it pains me to rank so low my wonderfully loony, unintentionally funny, metaphysically and visually interesting Exorcist II: The Heretic. I think I like it personally better than most of the others, but objectively, it can’t rank above them. No one loves this film, but I sure do and I am honor-bound to defend it to the death against all haters!
At No. 6, the absolute worst of the lot, Exorcist The Beginning: a trashy, flashy, empty and thoroughly Hollywood-by-committee attempt to please unimaginative moviegoers.