|The Exorcist III (1990)|
|Director:||William Peter Blatty|
|Writers:||William Peter Blatty|
|Starring:||George C. Scott, Brad Douriff, Jason Miller, and Ed Flanders.|
|The Plot: George C. Scott plays detective Bill Kinderman, a man who is a bit on the cranky side but is easily one of the very best men on the force. He was at one time great friends with priest Damien Karras, the man who helped perform the exorcism in the original The Exorcist, and now every year on the date of Karras’ death, Kinderman meets up with another one of Karras’ friends, Father Dyer (Ed Flanders). These two have a very special relationship, and while they console each other on this day of memorial, the pair have no idea that they will soon be confronted with their former friend’s death all over again. It seems that there is a copycat murderer who leaves all of the same hidden markings of “The Gemini Killer,” an infamous serial killer from the area, and he is killing off anyone who is related to the original exorcism. As Kinderman begins to investigate further, he finds that this road may lead him to some uncomfortable revelations about the fate of his former friend.|
Often when authors make the jump to the big screen, there are certain missteps that are expected along the way. When a writer who primarily works on novels pens the script for a movie, one might expect there to be a certain hokeyness within the dialogue. I’ve heard of this problem before, but not only does Blatty prove this expectation wrong, he manages to excel with the spoken word. With dialogue that is punchy, irreverent, and full of a very high amount of wit, I am always reminded of David Mamet’s work whenever I watch the film. The movie is filled with back and forth banter during the moments that are supposed to inspire entertainment, especially during the introductory scenes between George C. Scott and Ed Flanders, and yet the dialogue becomes stronger and full of gritty bite whenever Scott has his epic showdowns with Brad Douriff.
This brings us to another aspect of the movie that one might not expect to be phenomenal, the acting. Honestly, what does a writer know about acting? If you look at the idea on paper, one wouldn’t expect Blatty to have transferred into the director that he did, but he somehow had an amazing relationship with his cast. It could have been due to his experiences with Blake Edwards, a filmmaker who he collaborated with during the sixties and wrote multiple screenplays for, but whatever the reason may be, The Exorcist III is one of the most impressively acted horror movies that I have ever seen. George C. Scott was such a tremendous performer that he could keep an audience on the edge of their seat while reading the ingredients of his favorite breakfast cereal, but in The Exorcist III he is absolutely captivating. Although Scott does his fair share of scene stealing, Brad Douriff puts in a career defining performance here. Although, upon watching the movie, an audience member may consider Douriff to be one of the central figures in the film, but he doesn’t actually show up until almost exactly the one hour mark. Once he does show up, a ferocity is unleashed onto the screen that can be felt.
There are so many creative choices made in The Exorcist III that deserve to be mentioned. Blatty managed to create a truly creepy atmosphere within his movie. While the original Exorcist might have been a bit more frightening, there’s something special about the spooky atmosphere that this movie manages to deliver. Blatty creates an unnerving and surrealist atmosphere that is exacerbated by some very peculiar editing. Without a moment’s notice, scenes cut to seemingly mundane shots that somehow become frightening with the bizarre juxtapositions. The music also plays a key role in creating this tension. Although it is a movie that is favorably remembered for featuring one of the biggest “shock” scares of all time, a scene involving a statue and a pair of shears, there are surprisingly few such shocks throughout the movie. Instead of shrieking violins over the soundtrack that would help promote such over-the-top scares, there is a low guttural growl that seems to dominate the majority of The Exorcist III. Sounding like a demon or a patch of high winds, the underlying score for the movie holds up the tension and keeps audience members from ever being able to fully settle down.