THE EXORCISM (2024) Review by Steve Kirkham



3 stars
Vertigo Releasing. U.K. and Ireland Cinemas. 21st June

The film opens with an actor practicing his lines as he walks through the impressive, multi level set of the horror movie he is working on. Electricity sparks. Loud noises. Lights go out. “Please help my daughter” a voice sobs… and he is killed by what may or may not be supernatural forces.

This tragedy gives recovering alcoholic thespian Anthony Miller (well acted by Russell Crowe) an opportunity to claw back his career after several years ‘out of the loop’. He gets the part as the priest who is performing an exorcism in a film called The Georgetown Project (which is clearly meant to be a remake of a certain very famous horror movie set in that Washington DC neighbourhood – and if you don’t know what I am referring to then hand in your “horror fan” badge immediately). He is joined on set, as his assistant, by his wayward daughter Lee (Ryan Simpkins) who has been expelled from school.

Cajoled, to get a better performance, by the a-hole director Peter (Adam Goldberg), to revisit past trauma – from when he was a Catholic altar boy – it soon seems that Anthony might be slipping back to his old ways. Or are unknown forces at play?

Of course odd things start to happen, this is the set of a possession film after all, and there is even explicit reference to the “messed up shit” that happened on movies like THE OMEN (1976), THE EXORCIST (1973) and POLTERGEIST (1982).

Is something sinister happening or is it just an actor having a breakdown? This starts like a psychological horror, however in the last third it does go full on crazy – subtle it ain’t! Hamstrung by the fact it is riffing on what is considered a stone classic it does go for broke in the finale.

Having played an actual exorcist in last year’s often silly THE POPE’S EXORCIST, Crowe is excellent in capturing the mental struggles presented from playing the priest here – it’s a shame the film around him isn’t better.

Interestingly it’s directed by Joshua John Miller, who is the son of Jason Miller, who famously played Father Karras in THE EXORCIST. Tellingly this has been sitting on the shelf since 2019. It is atmospherically shot by Simon Duggan, though it does seem that none of the cast have the ability to turn on a light as everything is dark and gloomy. Whilst it starts off more as a character study, it does rely too much on the loud noise jump scare to try and jolt you out of your seat. Having said that it is kind of trashy fun by the end. David Hyde Pierce is notable as Father Conor, playing the on-set advisor.

Steve Kirkham