The ten best exorcism movies
With the release of The Devil Inside, out Friday, the cinema gods are taking a moment to remind all of us that religion is scary -- It's all higher powers and judgments and abductions by beings of light and women turning into salt and beings of pure good offset by beings of pure evil, and all of that has one thing in common: scary.
The Devil Inside Me
Though maybe nothing in religious tradition is as unsettling as the idea of something nasty taking up residence in you, forcing you to do weird gymnastics and talk in a chopped 'n' screwed voice, while vomiting pea soup that you didn't even eat. If they want to remind us that religion is scary, they should remember they've done it well many-a-time before. The power of Christ compels you to check out the the ten best movies about exorcism.
10. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
The movie that almost wasn't, Paul Schraeder's original version of this Exorcist prequel was finally released after the universal realization that Renny Harlin's version was a piece a shit. Not so much a movie about exorcism as a look into the mind of a priest with PTSD, the movie actually gets weakest at the exorcism climax, when Schraeder decides to suddenly throw subtlety out the window and give us shoddy face-morphing possession effects as Father Merrick does battle in cave soundstage. It makes it onto the list at 10 if only for a haunting performance by Stellan Skarsgård and an awesome reference-to-The-Searchers final shot, as Merrick walks through fog, rosary at his side like a six-shooter. Exorcist cowboy (It's cooler than it sounds).
9. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose attempts to walk two roads, presenting a realistic courtroom drama about the death of a young girl who may have been possessed, while trying to scare the hell out of the audience in flashback. It somewhat succeeds, as the two pieces never jell entirely. At the very least it's an exorcism film that tried something new and presented a variety of complex ideas for discussion, which is often all you can ask for.
8. The Rite (2011)
Anthony Hopkins catches Hannibal Rising on cable.
Like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, this movie is less a horror movie and more an attempt to look at the coming-of-age journey of a priest finding his faith and calling, dramatized when he has to use magic Catholic spells to rip a demon from its attachment to the soul of another priest.
7. The Exorcist 3: Legion (1990)
William Blatty, the author of the original novel The Exorcist was based on, wrote and directed this sequel from his own novel, and if not for studio meddling, it wouldn't even have an exorcism. As such, and like many on this list, the actual exorcism is the weakest part of the movie, which is an otherwise restrained and quiet supernatural thriller that should've been much worse (like part 2) as a sequel, and received much better (it should've never been a sequel).
6. The Amityville Horror (1979)
Yeah, a possessed house, y'all. This makes the list for being a not especially straightforward exorcism movie, considering it's a house that's possessed. What separates it from the standard haunted house flick however, is that a significant part of the plot is based on the family working with Catholic priests to exorcise the house. Again, something different. Parts of the movie haven't aged well, but the very idea of the house and the terror inside remains iconic.