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The Exorcist 2023 Film Review: Reboot of lacklustre exorcism film

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Film Name: 驱魔人:信徒 / The Exorcist

A direct sequel to Friedkin’s 1973 original, 《The Exorcist》 sidesteps the racism issues present in John Boorman’s 1977 film 《 Exorcist II》.

The film breaks with the traditional idea of Satanic possession in Christian mythology by presenting a new setting: the young children are not possessed by Satan, but by an African demon named Pazuzu. This setting provided Greene with a fresh perspective on the theme of demonic possession, allowing him the opportunity to tap into this subject matter.

Despite being billed as a reboot of an original work, 《The Exorcist》, like so many 《Exorcist》 followers, is casually dull and even disappointing. The film doesn’t have much that’s original to say about the subject of possession and exorcism, and continues to sell the twisted bodies of young women and sickening vomit scenes as lacking depth and creativity.

While the director is free to associate this production with Friedkin’s film, in reality it’s just another one-of-a-kind parody. Of the many films in the Exorcist series, this one is certainly the least interesting. It neither refreshes the viewer nor expands or deepens the original work in a meaningful way.

Half a century has passed, and changes in the world continue to drive the film industry, as do the tastes and attention spans of audiences. Yet, despite the advancing times, the film 《The Exorcist》 remains stuck in the most clichéd of clichés.

The director indulges in the obvious thriller elements of the past and ignores the needs and expectations of the modern audience. In the competitive environment of today’s film market, the lack of innovation and breakthrough is doomed to be eliminated.

The original 《Exorcist》 film was more thoughtful and theological in its overall approach, making the demonic events seem more mysterious and disturbing.

《The Exorcist》, on the other hand, leans more towards a traditional horror story. It offers escalating fear and creepy thrills, but only up to that point, lacking deeper thought and exploration.

《The Exorcist》, a film that explores the place and significance of religious faith in an increasingly secularised modern society, wants to show the collision and fusion between faith and modern society in an introspective and mature way.

The intention is to attract viewers by discussing the crisis related to sacred beliefs, but instead of using flashy visual effects or shocking horror elements, the film focuses on emotional portrayal and loses the atmosphere to immerse viewers.

As an exorcism-themed film, the climax of 《The Exorcist》 still adopts the conventional approach of possessed exorcism genre films.

Over the past 50 years, the devil has been busy on screen, and possession and exorcism genre films have proliferated.

However, the vast majority of them have simply followed the trend blindly and lacked originality and depth.

《The Exorcist》 is a film that features quite a few demons, but unfortunately it lacks the kind of creepy soul that puts it on par with classic horror films.

More than just a horror film, the original 1973 version of The Exorcist managed to provoke a crisis of faith in young priests, provoking viewers to think about demons, faith, and the paranormal, and directly spawning the possession and exorcism genre.

There have been many subsequent films in the possession and exorcism genre, but in essence, the core horror element is relatively homogenous. Most of the possession and exorcism films just repeat the same pattern without much innovation or breakthrough. They tend to scare the audience only through chilling scenes and sound effects, lacking true intrinsic horror and depth that others would not find scary except for scaring religious believers.

The only redeeming innovation in 《The Exorcist》 is that the priest is assisted by other non-Catholics in his exorcism mission.

This setting breaks with the traditional notion of exorcism as the exclusive preserve of the Church, and shows that saving souls is a diverse and inclusive practice, and that all people, regardless of their religion, can contribute to the fight against the forces of evil.

Unfortunately this meaningful idea is not fully developed in the film. It is drowned out and ignored in a sea of perfunctory clichés. The director seems content to simply replicate the familiar image of the “exorcist”, relying too much on sudden scares to produce a lazy film that lacks thought, emotion and excitement.

The concept of multi-dimensional exorcism is shallow, and the film sinks into stereotypes and thrills.

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