There aren’t many horror fans out there who don’t love “The Exorcist,” William Friedkin’s game-changing chiller about a young girl who gets possessed by a demonic entity. It’s been almost 50 years since the film’s release, and it’s still widely regarded as one of the scariest movies ever made. The influence of Friedkin’s demonic thriller is still being felt to this day, as evidenced by the upcoming sequel, “The Exorcist: Believer.”
That’s arguably a bad thing.
The success of “The Exorcist” spawned countless rip-offs, many of which are exploitation flicks that leave a lot to be desired. The 1970s produced a slew of schlocky low-budget copycats — “Abby,” “Seytan,” “The Manitou,” etc. — that ultimately created a trend that still exists to this day. Unfortunately, the movie industry has a habit of milking trends until they’re lifeless, and filmmakers can’t resist capitalizing on the ever-present popularity of movies about exorcisms. Unlike Friedkin’s movie, though, the majority of exorcism movies are boring slogs that are happy to stick to the same old tropes without bringing any new ideas to the table.
Furthermore, “The Exorcist” undoubtedly added to the world’s fascination with “true story” horror movies. William Blatty’s original novel was inspired by an exorcism case from 1949, which details the story of a 13-year-old Cottage City, Maryland resident who supposedly became possessed after developing an interest in Ouija boards. How many exorcism movies have we seen since then that claim to be based on actual events? The problem, though, is that they’re happy to delve into the sensationalist supernatural elements instead of addressing the mental health struggles that, in real life, cause people to believe that they’re being possessed. As such, these movies just feel exploitative, as well as generic. It’s time for exorcism movies to become more original and entertaining instead.