How the exorcist influenced modern horror films

Post by Casey S.

excIn 1973, the movie “The Exorcist” was released to theatres. Although it was predicted to be a bust of a movie, it turned a huge profit of $441,071,011. Not only making a huge financial profit, it was also nominated for 7 Golden Globe awards, 4 of which it won, but it doesn’t stop there, an entire generation of people were scared senseless! According to Slant magazine, its number 6 out of the 100 scariest movies of all time. I would have it at number one, because without it, a huge chunk of the movies on that list wouldn’t exist. But I guess that’s why they don’t have me writing “top 100” lists. (Go here for the list)

The director of this widely successful film, William Friedkin got the idea for this horrific film from the 1949 exorcism of a man named Roland Doe (if you want to know about Roland click here). This film opened a whole new genre of horror movies . Before the release of this horror film, there were no horror movies that tapped into the deepest, and darkest fears of the human mind like this classic did. There were no movies prior to “The Exorcist” that dealt with demonic possession on the level that Friedkin’s flick did.

Years later in 2011, a film by director Mikael Hafstrom called “The Rite” was released. The elements in this film can be closely tied to that of “The Exorcist”. For example, each film follows one priest, who is losing faith in God, comes in contact with a possessed person, and in the end “steps up” and exercises the demon from that individual. Father Michael from “The Rite” goes from a young, inexperienced boy looking to become a priest, but at the same time he is losing his faith in the Almighty (God). He goes through a series of trials throughout the movie such as his loss of faith. But at the end of the movie when Father Michael has to drive out Satan from his “teacher” Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), he regains his faith and the movie ends happily. “The Exorcist” didn’t end so well, but it had the same elements to it as “The Rite”. Damien (the main priest in the film) is a priest that resides in an apartment in a ghettoish area. His mother is gravely ill (and eventually dies and later plays a role while the Devil possesses Raegan the little girl who is one of the main characters in the story), and he has never experienced life outside of the walls of his apartment and the walls of his church, God has never shown signs of existence or caring to Damien. He must prove that the little girl is possessed, but the church fails to acknowledge his plea for help. So him and Father Lankester must exercise the Devil from this little girl by themselves. In the end Damien ends up taking the Devil into himself and jumping out of a second story window, to save the little girl’s life. Damien put himself after others. He in a sense grew up and did what had to be done. Just like Father Michael in “The Rite”. The resemblance between these two films is uncanny. A priest losing faith, but eventually “stepping up” and facing evil, when they could have easily quit and lost all faith in God. They go from inexperienced young men, to grown up, and mature (or in Damien’s case, dead). “The Rite” is one specific example of a movie that was influenced by Freidkin’s film “The Exorcist”. The release of “The Exorcist” influenced decades of horror films, therefore opening a new genre of horror, and looking into the darkest, deepest, fears of the human mind.

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