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October 02, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-02

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Reid reads at the Drum
it Ni t rad ind aithr o "If I Don't Six"
lwood Reid reaids from his Liest
"Midni'ht Sun," at Shamajn ID rum, 8 p.m.
m chigandaily.com /arts

ART

-----------

Added footage does
little to improve on
fright classic 'Exorcist'

NB C's 'Tucker' still neede
to go through puberty

By tyle Henretty
Dily Arts Writer
When you leave a good horror
movie, you should be able to talk to
your friends about the parts of the
film that really scared you. This is

The
Exorcist
Grade: A-
At Showcase
and Quality 16
Atheist or Ayn1

impossible to do
when you walk
out of "The
E x o r c i s t"
because you are
still scared. It
does not simply
set you up and
then make you
jump. This
movie eats into
your mind and
soul. For at least
two hours,
whether you are
C a t h o 1 i c,
Rand, you will

most terrifying experiences ever put
on celluloid.
Now, saying that, this new theatri-
cal version loses half a grade for
what I like to call "screwing with a
good film to make money" (also
known as George Lucas Syndrome).
The restored I1 minutes of footage,
for the most part, does very little
good or bad to the original film.
The much touted "spider walk"
scene, which was originally cut for
time, comes off looking gimmicky.
At no other point in the film does
the demon show off in this way and
it really isn't that scary. The other
added footage, notably a conversa-
tion between the priests mid-exor-
cism and another minute or so on the
end, seem boring and throw off the
film's very deliberate pacing.
Another meddle sure to anger the
purists is the odd addition of "sub-
liminal" shots of, presumably, the
devil himself. They pop up every so
often, so quickly sometimes you're

Courtesy of Warner Broters
Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) attempts to purge Regan of demons in 'The Exorcist'

bUieve in the devil. This is, without
a dOubt, one of the top two or three

not even sure you saw them. It was
reminiscent of "Halloween," where
the killer's mask was viewed briefly,
a device used to build paranoia. I'm
almost embarrassed to admit that
this did add to my own building ten-
sion, but I had to draw the line at a
computer generation of this face
appearing over Regan's face at a crit-
ical moment.
These small gripes aside, this still
remains a brilliant fright film, char-
acter piece and religious study. For
those uninitiated, "The Exorcist" is
the story of young Regan MacNeil
(Linda Blair), who becomes the ves-
sel of wrath containing none other
than Satan himself. Her mother,
actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen
Burstyn), after exhausting all of her
other options, enlists the help of
faith-impaired psychologist-priest
Father Karras (Jason Miller) to per-
form an exorcism. The Catholic
Church then sends in the big guns, in
the form of Father Merrin (Max Von
Sydow), to run.the show.
This simple explanation does not
do justice to the complex work of all
involved. Burstyn does an elegant
slow burn as a mother feeling as
much pain as her child. Miller
becomes Father Karras and his final

redemption is both moving and trag-
ic. When confronting the demon,
Von Sydow is so strong and confi-
dent the viewer feels momentarily
safe, only to become even more
afraid as the actor shows the fear
behind his strength. As for Blair, the
actress probably destroyed her
career by playing her part so con-
vincingly. Blair is so amazing that
she completely disappears, and we
see only the monster. For it is Blair's
performance that has kept many a
viewer sleeping with the lights on
since the film's original release in
1973.
What is truly amazing for a movie
older than I am is that it can seem so
refreshing in today's over-saturated
horror market. "The Exorcist" takes
itself seriously. There are no ironic
nods to other films, no in-jokes or
winks at the camera. Instead, "The
Exorcist" allows suspense to build
simply by force of its subject and plot.
The slow pacing builds tension, and
brings the audience near the breaking
point. So please, even if you have
seen this movie before, take up this
opportunity to see it as it was meant
to be seen. The print has been re-mas-
tered and the soundtrack redone. The
devil has never looked so good.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Clearly, Regan is not happy.

I

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