You know it by heart. Young Regan (Linda Blair) starts speaking Latin bouncing around on a shaking bed and rotating her head 360 degrees so her famous-actress mom (Ellen Burstyn) searches for answers finally employing the services of a priest-psychiatrist (Jason Miller) and a legendary exorcist (Max von Sydow) whose battles with the devil have left him frail. What makes this more than just a cool scary flick is that it’s actually about something — namely the erosion of faith and family that makes our kids easy prey for Satan … or for drugs violence and other nasty stuff.
Virtually every actor is flawless in this film and the fact that their performances hold up 27 years later (none of the acting seems dated or hokey) is remarkable. Director William Friedkin made two legendary casting coups in this film: playwright and first-time film actor Jason Miller is perfect as the faith-fractured Father Karras and Linda Blair is totally convincing both as the sweet little girl and the profanity-spewing green-puke-spitting demon.
If you’re expecting those jump-out-of-your-seat scares from start to finish you’ll be disappointed. “The Exorcist” is a film that takes its own (devilishly) sweet time getting where it’s going.