The Exorcist (USA, 1973)
Directed by William Friedkin
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
IMDb Top 250 - #206 (12/6/13)
This is the 400th film I have reviewed since joining Rotten Tomatoes in 2009. You can find all my rating and reviews, both pre- and post-blogs, here: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/user/752852/
When something is billed as being the scariest film of all time, it's already setting itself up for a fall. Being scared is an entirely subjective experience: what will leave one person catatonic with terror would have almost no effect on another - worse still, they might even laugh at it. The Exorcist still has much to offer in the ideas it raises, or the performances through which they are raised, but after 40 years of iconic pop culture status, it's nothing like as scary as once it was.
The Wicker Man actually contribute to the unnerving atmosphere by throwing us off the scent, Friedkin's choices feel more archly choreographed, like he is toying with us often at the expense of the film's content.
The Stepford Wives, Network and Tootsie - in short, he knows what he's doing. His use of shadows is very effective, particularly in the exterior scenes around the Georgetown steps and the corners of Chris and Regan's house. Some shots are overly static, lending the film a creaky feel, but it never feels like the cinematographer is trying to impose himself or a given genre onto the story.
NEXT REVIEW: The Great Gatsby (2013)