The Exorcism Review

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Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

Two exorcism movies in two years for Russell Crowe. Is he gaining an interest in the horror genre or just trying to cash a paycheck? “The Exorcism” follows an actor with a history of alcoholism. After a hiatus from performing, he is cast in an exorcism movie to get his career back on track. But his daughter notices some unprecedented behavior on set. She begins to wonder if he is relapsing or if there is a demonic entity attaching itself to her father.

Positives:

One can guess that an under the radar horror movie featuring Russel Crowe will market his presence like crazy. There is no doubt that he’s the best part of the film. He is clearly the most seasoned actor amongst the group and gives a performance that’s better than the story itself. What’s interesting is that he plays a very different character than he did in “The Pope’s Exorcist”. In that film, he portrayed a witty Italian priest whose dedication to the church was put to the test during a terrifying case. Here, he plays a troubled actor whose main role is portraying a priest. The two performances tackle very different ideas and allow Crowe to explore different kinds of characters. I also thought Ryan Simpkins plays a good counter to Crowe as she is struggling with her own problems. Adam Goldberg and David Hyde Pierce turn in nice supporting performances as well. 

Negatives:

Unfortunately for Crowe, this is not as successful as “The Pope’s Exorcist”. The film falls short in nearly every category. What is presented as an interesting premise quickly falls into a tiresome and confusing story. The film is loosely associated with the set of the original “Exorcist” film and the alleged paranormal circumstances surrounding the production. Director Joshua John Miller’s father played the main priest in the original film as well, making the personal ties to the story even more interesting. But “The Exorcism” squanders its neat premise for a drab and unfocused story that left me perplexed at what the end goal was. The film isn’t scary at all, reverting to generic jump scares and formulaic genre tropes when things get tense. Plus, we don’t learn much about the demonic entity at play which is a shame. 

The story also opts to focus on Crowe’s personal struggles in the film, highlighting hidden demons that an alcoholic may experience in their personal life. Some may like this angle but I could see others feeling like the scares were shortchanged for something else. I especially thought they could have explored these ideas more in the relationship between Crowe and his daughter. If the writers found a smoother way to combine horror and the larger ideas at play then the film would have been more successful. I also wasn’t crazy about the color palate of the cinematography. The film borrows Zack Snyder’s gray hue that is prominent in most of his films. While a bleak vibe to the film is fitting, it didn’t work as well as it should have. With any kind of horror movie, utilizing the dark and the brighter colors around it really set for a creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately this was all drab and no creep. 

Conclusion:

What could have been an interesting take on the exorcism premise falls into a forgettable genre film. Outside of a nice performance from Russel Crowe, there is little to take away from this one. The strange direction of the story often becomes boring and squanders the many opportunities to do something different with the exorcism subgenre. I’d say skip this one and check out “The Pope’s Exorcist” instead if you really want to see Russell Crowe battle a demon.