Filmmaker and horror aficionado Ashley Thorpe describes another of his top five horror picks. Today, The Exorcist.
THE EXORCIST – 1973
Though The Exorcist is often remembered for its terrifying visuals, the aspect of the film that always stays with me is actually the sound editing. The ‘whisper to a scream’ approach is the lynchpin of slasher cinema; it’s quiet, then something leaps from the shadows. It’s the boo effect. The Exorcist uses the opposite wherein the greatest drama is created by cutting from moments of action to vignettes of silence. It’s terrifying, recalling the void left by a row or a moment of random violence.
A perfect example of this comes at approximately 51 minutes in a scene wherein, confronted by two Doctors, Regan (the possessed girl) assaults them and exposes herself screaming a string of obscenities. Shocked by the visuals, assaulted by the sound, we are suddenly, in a rapid cut, left on the stairwell in silence with the girls mother, recoiling in the aftermath. The contrast is devastating. This scene is then mirrored later (1hour 49) when the priests Karras and Father Merrin are sat in the exact same spot themselves recoiling after facing the demon. Its a masterly use of sound and image.
The Exorcist is a film almost lost in its own myth. It tells the tale of a young girl possessed by a demon and two priests’ attempt at an exorcism. Written by William Peter Blatty (purportedly based upon a true story) the film under the direction of William Friedkin went on to become one of the most successful horror films of all time (even after languishing in limbo after being deemed as obscene during the video nasty scare). Compared to the blockbusters of today, The Exorcist (like Alien) appears almost leisurely in its telling, but the pace is slow, rhythmical, deliberate, and the shocks when they come, are devastating.
Posted by Ashley Thorpe
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