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The Problem with Exorcist Type Films
You know, I will NEVER forget how spooked I was leaving the theater after seeing, The Exorcist, with Linda Blair. The scenes of seeing her body float and contort into abnormal positions, the head turning full 360 degree, the bumps, the screams, the blood. If there ever was a movie the set the bar for all horror or exorcist films to follow and meet, this was it. It freaked out audiences when it was released for its advanced techniques. It was the talk of all movie patrons for months and to this day, still generates discussion.
Of course, since that film came out in the 70's, there have been many, many exorcist films, There is not a year without several appearing on the same theme and similar manner as to how to get devil out of the body. All of them, despite advances in techniques and CGI, end up either worse or the same as the original made over 30 years ago. The screenplay follows a similar path with all the usual scare tactics that have been used since the original. So, in a sense, there is nothing new about any sort of exorcist film. The plot always has to climax with the exorcism to remove satan from the human body usually by a priest. The devil is always gross and eerie and forces the human body to contort, rise, drop, fly across the room, and so on. And, in the end, satan always loses and leaves the body and promised to come back for another try in a sequel.
The latest is, The Conjuring, based on a true case in the 1970's, which is well documented. The house a young family buys was the scene of a horrific crime and is haunted by evil entities as they attach to living humans, though cannot be seen. Like in all such movies, things are fine at first, then, a few oddities appear, then more obvious ones confront the inhabitants freaking them out.
As I watched it, most of the scenes of fright were done well but only a few scared me or made me jump. Most were predictable unless you have never seen such a film, Some scenes I thought to myself, "ripoff", or reminded me of other exorcist films. There was even a scene near the end were it was like Hitchcock's, The Birds, when black crows were attacked the house. It was effective but I have seen it before. There was some technology but pre-ghostbusters, as evidence of ghosts were captured on recordings and photos. Plenty of scenes with possessed bodies flying across the room, squeaky doors, slamming doors, eerie screams, shadows, appearances of past bodies asking for help and the face to face encounter with satan including the occupied body floating to the roof and contortions.
It actually was one of the better ones made so far, but, scared? Not at all. Maybe it is because this type of genre really can do no more to scare the audience than what was done in 30 years ago. Maybe having seen many others over the years is another problem (I am sure my teen daughter would be scared, however). The Conjuring did surprise my intuition several times in the scare method. Many times, I anticipated a scare was coming, you know, it had all the signs, yet nothing happened. Sometimes, it was delayed scare, which comes after you suspect one is coming and nothing, then boom, gotcha! There was several of those and it did catch me off guard. Many scenes were those of the type, you the viewer are saying, " don't open the door, don't go into basement, don't turn on the light and so on. Sometimes, it was a false fright.
Compared to others, Conjuring, is not very bloody but it used all of the horror techniques that all exorcist movies use.
That is the problem.I guess they keep making them for the generations who missed all of the previous ones or just those who want to be scared.