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The Exorcism

Updated: Jul 13

So you're telling me that the son of Jason Miller, the brilliant actor who played Father Karras in the 1973 Horror masterpiece "The Exorcist", wrote and directed this movie?

And this movie is a meta horror film within a film from Kevin Williamson, the man who INVENTED that genre with "Scream"?

And this film, THE EXORCISM stars Russell Crowe as an actor battling alcoholism and addiction and he's starring in his second possession movie in two years?

This ought to be something!!

Well, it's about 10 minutes of something buried in 93 minutes of unrealized vision. Crowe actually filmed this in 2019 and it has sat on the shelf for 5 years. Unfortunately, this vintage didn't improve with age.

We meet actor Anthony Miller (Crowe) as he prepares for his first film in years. Formerly a respected dramatic actor, Miller's demons (alcohol, coke, sex) drove him to leave his daughter and friends behind when his wife died of cancer. He's been off the radar and off the booze and after a strange (ooooh spooky, but not so much) actor's death on the set of "The Georgetown Project", he's hired to play the Exorcist in a remake of "The Exorcist".

So Crowe is playing Miller, playing the role of the exorcist, in The Exorcist, which is the role Writer/Director Joshua John Miller's father Jason Miller played in The Exorcist.

With all those intersecting spirals of opportunity and kismet, you would think Joshua would have come up with something more interesting than this.

Ryan Simpkins plays Miller's daughter Lee, who the production hires mostly to babysit her Dad during filming. I kept wishing she'd take that headset off.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) needs to fire his agent, for stranding him in a role that's so paper thin, he's almost invisible as the assistant priest to Miller. (Miller's role in the original! Oh boy! Nope, that goes nowhere...)

Adam Goldberg (A Simple Mind, Saving Private Ryan) makes much more of an impression as Peter, one of the slimiest, most manipulative directors ever to yell "Action!". It's not a stretch to think that this is Joshua's way of commenting on William Friedkin, who's methods on set filming "The Exorcist" were so over the top they've become film legend.

It's a TMZ level truth emblazoned by gossip about all of the misfortunes on the sets of "The Exorcist", "The Omen" and "Poltergeist", but about two thirds of the way through this aimless mess, I was nearly laughing out loud that this supposed film would still be in production after everything that's happened on set.

In its most ludicrous moment, about fifty people witness a character cracking every bone in his body as a demon possesses him (for real, or whatever reality is here) and his head bends all the way backward and slams the floor, then a dining room table.

Next scene, everyone is still on set, the character is still in play.

Huh?

David Hyde Pierce is one of the better things in the film as Father Conor, the on-set religious consultant. I hope Conor got overtime for everything he ends up doing during filming.

There are a couple good moments courtesy of Crowe and Pierce and some clever set design that feels like a full size version of those ominous doll houses in "Hereditary", but no real scares.

There are countless layers within layers of references between real life, "The Exorcist" and this film, but Miller seems content to touch on them without every exploring any of them enough to bear real fruit.

Addiction: demonic possession seems to be the only through line that anything else is hung on, but Miller slips into a bizarre conclusion that seems to say, "Never mind about all those interesting possibilities, lets make this a horror movie after all."

What a waste.

THE EXORCISM gets a less than compelling D.



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