Review: Crowe Battles Inner Demons in The Exorcism

Review: Crowe Battles Inner Demons in The Exorcism

The Exorcism tells the haunting story of Tony Miller, played by Russell Crowe, an out-of-work actor striving for a comeback.

After struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse, Miller lands a lead role in a horror film, The Georgetown Project, a nod to William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, The Exorcist.

In The Exorcism, the opening scene introduces us to The Georgetown Project, which centers on a priest facing a crisis of faith as he attempts to exorcise a demon from a teenage girl. The set is a near replica of the iconic house from The Exorcist, deepening the eerie atmosphere. Urban legends about paranormal activity on horror film sets add an extra layer of tension, with unexplained moments throughout the movie.

The film delves into Miller’s traumatic past, hinting at childhood abuse by a priest. This makes his role as a priest even more harrowing. Real-life priest Father Conor, portrayed by David Hyde Pierce, exacerbates Miller’s distress.

Complicating matters further, Miller struggles with his rebellious 16-year-old daughter, Lee, played by Ryan Simpkins. Lee, who ran away from boarding school after a conflict over gay rights, becomes entangled with her father’s co-star, Blake Holloway (Chloe Bailey), who plays the demon-possessed girl.

Director Joshua John Miller, whose father Jason Miller played Father Damien Karras in the original The Exorcist, brings a deep connection to the material. The film starts as a psychological horror, transitions to an homage to The Exorcist, and culminates in a full-blown horror spectacle. Sam Worthington makes a brief appearance as Karras, echoing his father’s iconic role.

Russell Crowe, previously seen as an exorcist in The Pope’s Exorcist (2023), delivers a compelling performance despite the film’s shortcomings. His portrayal of Miller, a man battling both personal and supernatural demons, is a testament to his acting prowess. However, even Crowe’s talent can’t fully redeem the film from its weak script and lackluster exorcism scenes.

The Exorcism offers fan service to horror enthusiasts, particularly those who hold The Exorcist in high regard. While it captures moments from the classic film, including the climactic sacrifice of a priest, it ultimately falls short in delivering genuine scares. Despite its flaws, the film showcases Crowe’s ability to shine amidst fading glory.

CAST: Russell Crowe, Ryan Simpkins, Sam Worthington, Chloe Bailey, Adam Goldberg

DIRECTOR: Joshua John Miller

GENRE: Horror

DURATION: 1 hour 33 minutes