The Exorcism

Director: Joshua John Miller
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Simpkins, Sam Worthington, Chloe Bailey, Adam Goldberg, David Hyde Pierce, Adrian Pasdar, Samantha Mathis
Distributor: Rialto Distribution
Runtime: 93 mins. Reviewed in Jun 2024
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong horror themes

A troubled actor begins to exhibit a disruptive behaviour while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

The exorcism was released in 2024 although it was filmed at the end of 2019. Crowe appeared as the Vatican exorcist in 2023, The Pope’s Exorcist. This seems to have offered an opportunity for The Exorcism to be released.

Interestingly, the film has been cowritten and directed by Joshua John Miller. He is the son of the actor, Jason Miller, who played Father Karras in The Exorcist. Joshua John Miller was born the year after the film’s release but he may have been drawing on family discussions in the ensuing years about the film and its effect on his father.

The film opens eerily with an actor walking through the set, rehearsing his lines, when he’s suddenly attacked and killed. Which means that there needs to be re-casting.

This is a film about the making of the film, with some scenes of the film within the film. There is an elaborate set, multistoried including a basement, with the basement used, of course, for a dramatic climax. On the whole, the film is, literally, very dark. The apartment of the actor is full of shadows, sometimes sinister. Most of the action takes place on the set with some interior darkness. While there are some moments outside the apartment and the studio, they are generally night scenes.

And, the theme of the film is dark. Crowe plays an actor Tony Miller, with a back story of alcoholism and addiction, neglected wife and daughter, who is offered the role of the exorcist priest in the new film – which has links to the original, the screenplay in the film called The Georgetown Project.

Miller is diffident. He is interviewed, does the readings, gets the role, and we follow the ups and downs in performance. There is some sort of reconciliation with his daughter (Simpkins), who has been suspended from school and attracted to the young actress who is playing the possessed victim in the film (Bailey).

Things begin to go wrong, the actor becoming more and more possessed, building up to an exorcism confrontation, especially with the priest adviser to the film, an unexpected appearance by David Hyde Pierce.

Final dramatics and melodramatics of exorcism. Compared with the Exorcism films, this one seems rather slight in its imagination, not an essential exorcism film at all, but it must be said that Crowe certainly gives his serious best in his performance.

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