The start of a new irregular series looking at pop culture classics
I’ve always had a problem with this movie and have never agreed that
it should be rated as highly as it is - for instance Mark Kermode, a
critic who I usually find myself in synch with, considers this to be the
greatest horror film of all time. Not in my opinion it isn’t. Kermode
may be a big time critic but as a humble viewer my opinion is just as
I’m not saying it is a bad movie because it isn’t and it is effective
as a horror movie even if we ignore the more exploitative scenes. The
recorded animal sounds buried deep in the soundtrack work on an almost
subliminal level and unsettle the viewer so that when the genuine shocks
come they are all the more effective. It’s just that for the most part I
find the film slow, pedestrian even and I do think it is far too dark
for repeated viewings.
Rik Barker’s make up work is outstanding and the special effects are
great – the scene where Regan levitates is terrific and the bit where
she spews out pea soup like projectile vomit is genuinely unsettling.
The low key photography gives the film an almost docu-drama feel which
again makes the horror all the visceral.
So what’s wrong with it? Well, as I said earlier, I find it far too
slowly paced and on times the film teeters on boredom, by the standards
of modern horror movies it crawls along. Some of the editing seems
bizarre in that scenes are amped up to hysterical levels and then cut
abruptly to a more sedentary pace, leaving the viewer confused. And
there’s the fact that it’s not aged as well as it could have and very
much feels like a product of its time.
Still if you’ve not seen it then you definitely need to, but if you
go into it with knowledge of all the hype and legend you just may be