Review: The Exorcist III

Review: The Exorcist III (1990)

Director: William Peter Blatty

Writer: William Peter Blatty

Stars: George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders

currently available on Amazon Proime (as of 10/30/19)

William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III is supernaturally exhilarating, spellbinding its viewers in fascinated horror as it entrances them with incomparable dialog and some of the most intense performances ever captured on film.  The original novel The Exorcist, which was also written by Blatty, was transformed into a bona fide horror masterpiece by the sure hand of master director William Friedkin (The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A., Bug).  When Blatty took over the director’s chair to adapt its first true sequel (I am discountingThe Exorcist 2 which was a shameless cash grab disowned by Blatty), he touched the film with a passionate knowledge of self, missing from the coldly scientific perspective of Friedkin’s masterpiece.  This means that pain and evil each drip from the screen during The Exorcist III, making it no less horrifying and nearly as fascinating as 1972’s The Exorcist..

Whereas Friedkin filmed his experiment in horror like a police procedural, The Exorcist III(which is actually a police procedural) is filmed with an emotional lens, making its shadows deeper and its reality more pliable.  Characters transform their faces and voices, figures crawl quickly on the ceiling, and a crucified adolescent innocent floats up from a hole in the floor.  While all the horrific descriptions and depictions of violence might risk guiding viewers to look away, the film’s performances are absolutely riveting, especially the starring turn by George C. Scott.

The pain and the terror in Scott’s face is deeply meaningful, and the rage in his arms is captivating.  It is almost as if, in times of great emotional strife, Scott’s character Lt. William Kinderman loses control of his muscles as they spasm in pain.  But it is not only Scott’s performance that elevates the film, but also Ed Flanders’ portrayal of horror-hardened Priest Father Dyer that grounds the emotion of the film in wise empathy.  But it is Brad Dourif’s spellbinding showing as the malevolent Gemini Killer that makes the film intoxicating.

Unlike his magnificent showing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as the suicidally bashful Billy Bibbit, Dourif’s turn in The Exorcist III shows us the self-assured face of evil.  Imprisoned, tormented, and unstoppable.  This film shows the monstrous nature of evil, forbidding its audience from looking away even for a second.  Though to my perspective this is not the staggering achievement the original The Exorcist was, this film is more emotionally tangible than its predecessor, and definitely as worthy of a watch this Halloween.

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Review: The Exorcist III

Poem: The Waking Dead

Talking to myself is less lonely

or more, I suppose than silence

is a choking void, speaking like a robot

valium addict method acting a dopefeind

in a drama, directed by Arinofsky

on a sadness bender, under a shade

with sunglasses on, it’s from a Friedkin

script about the dead rising slowly

at first, and they’re weak so barely

any escape, and their disease is a curse

not contagious, so there will be no more

dead, the movie is ten minutes long.

Poem: The Waking Dead

My Case for Michael Shannon as Batman

I recently saw Midnight Special, and though overall it left me somewhat cold, I did come out of the theater confident in one assertion: Michael Shannon should be the next actor to play Batman.  I say this because more than any other actor who’s played this iconic role, I believe Shannon has the perfect combination of an intimidating aspect, all-consuming passion, and absolute insanity that I’ve come to believe the role requires.  Because of this I believe that Shannon is by far the best choice to take the role of Batman, and that he could find new dimensions of character in Gotham City’s vigilant guardian.

For the straight-faced intimidating stare Batman uses when he shakes down criminals, look to Nelson Van Alden, Shannon’s character on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  As Van Alden, Shannon brings an impenetrable gloominess and a clear-eyed certainty, both of which I think would be perfect for the caped crusader.  I envision Shannon in the cape and the mask beating a few street toughs silently, wordlessly and mercilessly, giving them all nightmares with his permanently stone faced glower.  He also would not need to modulate his voice (like Bale’s annoying rasp), as his bass mumble evokes the ultimate humorless authority figure.

I feel that Shannon would animate the untrusting, secretive and obsessive nature of Bruce Wayne.  Given Shannon’s wonderful performance in Jeff Nichols Take Shelter, wherein he plays a man consumed by terrifying nightmares and apocalyptic hallucinations.  As the film goes on, it is plainly evident in Shannon’s face that his character has an increasingly tenuous grasp on reality, and as this grasp evaporates he becomes more wide-eyed and desperate with each scene.  I believe Shannon would do well to bring these elements of inner torment and social disconnection to Bruce Wayne, perhaps ruling over board meetings by pounding on surfaces with unnerving intensity.

Bruce Wayne is not a well man, and Michael Shannon could portray this with effortless ease.  William Friedkin’s stellar nightmare Bug is a prime example of Shannon’s ability to play unhinged.  The physicality Shannon portrays in Bug is dangerous and manic, such as I believe has been lacking in previous portrayals of Gotham’s most eccentric citizen.

My Case for Michael Shannon as Batman