The Exorcist is like that guy in your small town who peaked in high school, yeah he was cool back then, but man, you wish he would move past it already.
Ultimately this is a ranking that isn’t gonna be hard to guess where I stand on any of these if you’ve been following this series, but I will say from an outsider’s perspective there was a lot I enjoyed from these, it was certainly strange, but in it’s own way, it had a charm to it.
Without further ado, may the power of Christ compel this ranking.
6/6 – The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1976)
Insane, incomprehensible, and flat-out bizarre. More power to them for trying something bold and failing spectacularly than just doing an effortless rehash of the original, James Earl Jones was a delight even if his appearance made no sense.
5/6 – The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
Dull, lazy, and over the top in all the worst ways. It takes all the worst messages from the classic and none of the heart or atmosphere, at least Ellen Burstyn put her absurd paycheck towards funding a scholarship, at least some good came out of this one, even if from a Doylist view than a Watsonian one.
4/6 – The Exorcist: Beginnings (2004)
In a strange way, this is like a trial run of everything that Believer did wrong, just not nearly as egregious, I want to give it a higher score than the aforementioned movie, but the plot is just too out there for me to say it’s worthy of any kind of further evaluation
3/6 – Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
Probably the best-released version of the proposed Lankester Merrin-focused prequel film, but even that’s not saying all too much.
Tonally it’s the closest to the best of the series, but it has a little too much “Pazuzu” looking goofy and a strangely lacklustre conclusion, in some strange alternate universe there’s a movie that combines the Merrin and atmosphere from this movie with the supporting cast from Beginnings and that would probably work the best for me personally.
But what we got was just ok at best and that’s the real tragedy.
2/6 – Movie 2: The Exorcist III (1990)
Talk about low expectations.
After the laughably deranged Exorcist II, the original film’s writer, William Peter Blatty took to work adapting his sequel novel to the original film, Legion into a film of the same name with him in the director’s seat, which the studio changed the name of to help market it.
History aside, what a movie. Rather than focus on the possessed child element of the original, this focuses on the human drama, the tragedy of it, the loss of innocence, and the ugliness of humanity.
Told through excellent performances from Brad Dourif and George C. Scott you feel every ounce of strange, otherworldly darkness, and man, what a great time. Honestly, as I think more about it, it may be on par with the original film for me, time will only tell.
1/6 – The Exorcist (1973)
Of course, this was gonna be at the top, what else would it be, Repossessed? This is a perfect movie, a grounded beautifully tragic and haunting story that has withstood the test of time and showcases the will of the human spirit to care and survive and thrive.
It’s about the love of parent and child and the lengths you go to for those you love, such as with Chris McNeil in disarray over not being able to treat Regan with traditional means or Father Karras feeling immense guilt over not being there for his mother in her final hours, and then both of them have to turn to faith in something greater than themselves to stop this evil, for Chris it’s faith in the Exorcists, and for Karras it’s to trust in a God amidst his declining faith.
It’s so rare to find a movie that you’ve seen parodied, homaged, spoofed, and referenced to death and find that the influence it left behind is more than justified, it’s just that damn good.