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June 2024

theex

The Exorcism

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Vertical // Directed by Joshua John Miller // Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Simpkins, Sam Worthington, Chloe Bailey, Adam Goldberg, Adrian Pasdar, David Hyde Pierce

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The latest entry into the RCEU (Russell Crowe Exorcism Universe) finds the Academy Award-winning actor taking on the role of Tony Miller, a washed-up actor who has been given the chance to resurrect his stumbling career and atone for his checkered past. He is given the opportunity to play a troubled priest in a horror film titled “The Georgetown Project”, however, Tony's own troubled relationship with the Catholic Church comes back to haunt him in demonic ways, leaving his soul and life at the mercy of a treacherous demon. The Exorcism is directed by Joshua John Miller, the son of Jason Miller who so magnificently played Father Damien Karras in 1973's The Exorcist, and the younger Miller has based his experiences growing up with his father's stories to shape the narrative of this film - the film-within-the-film is a clear remake of The Exorcist. Now, I am a huge fan of supernatural horror, especially within the possession realm, and whilst I had fun with Crowe in The Pope's Exorcist, this lacks any of that film's self-awareness. Instead, The Exorcism, while aspiring for a satirical angle, is just a bit boring. There is a distinct lack of atmosphere or tension throughout, despite some well-crafted sequences, and the performances from the cast do nothing to help either. Whilst Crowe is clearly embracing his career direction and enjoying himself, the performances from Simpkins, Bailey, and Hyde Pierce certainly offered nothing to write home about. The script is also lacking in many aspects - characters joke about The Georgetown Project’s poor script, but I do wonder if it was just behind-the-scenes footage of the actors reading their scripts for The Exorcism. Some of the lines are provocative, especially from Peter (Goldberg), The Georgetown Project director, however when Russell Crowe delivered one of the craziest lines I've heard all year, any goodwill that had been built up swiftly disappeared. It's frustrating as the premise on offer here is genuinely appealing, but the execution is lacking and a more nuanced approach would have greatly benefited the narrative and added the weight that the film so desperately needs. For a final nail in the coffin, it’s apparent that the film went through severe edits as the pacing is all over the place, and the speed in which things occur - including Tony’s battle with his demons and Simpkins and Bailey’s awfully conjured romance - is wholly jarring. Overall, The Exorcism is a frightless, dour, and messy film that falls neatly alongside many other similarly lacklustre films within this sub-genre of horror.

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