The Exorcism (2024) – Movie Review
It was supposed to be a movie about a movie, but it turned out to be a movie about nothing. Disturbing urban legends about what allegedly happened on some Hollywood set were often part of the advertising campaign for one or another horror film. Sometimes, in fact, these stories brought to mind curses that came straight from the Egyptian pyramids: there a floodlight fell, someone got sick, but not with the flu, and another unlucky person ended up under the wheels of a bus. Initially, “Exorcism” was meant to be a flirtation with the stories perpetuated by popular culture, a self-referential joke on which not only a decent horror film could be built, but also a reflection of a certain marketing mechanism that makes us cling to it. To death like bees to honey.

Or maybe not, maybe I’m wrong, maybe it was supposed to be a horror series, even below average for the genre. Any exploration of metafilm levels is abandoned very quickly in favor of a very uninventive sound that tends to lose interest after the first act. But the cardinal sin of “exorcism” is a complete lack of respect for the chosen setting. The film’s set is merely a prop here, and there’s no reflection on the medium, just the occasional jump scares and Russell Crowe, who perhaps takes on the role of a rickety action actor a bit too much. There’s no need to be mean, but – with occasional exceptions where he can enjoy a carefully crafted script for himself – the New Zealand tough man has been playing below his potential in recent years.

For his character Anthony Miller, who has been diving to the bottom of the bottle in recent years, starring in a new horror film could be redemption. If he stops drinking, he will mend his relationship with his daughter and deal with his suddenly awakened childhood traumas. He had to play the role of a Catholic priest, and to this day he associates the collar with forced visits to the treasury. However, his personal problems, on which a piece of the story can be built, are only minimal background. Miller’s personal demons are replaced with hellish demons whose sizzles are put into a blender and digitally enhanced ear-to-ear smiles are more pleasing to the eye than whipped cream on a priest’s lap. Alcoholism appears here as a hurdle to jump over, and past mistakes are clumsily transformed into a discourse about a crisis of faith. But nothing matters to Miller (the director, not the actor in the film in question) more than a little screaming and noise.

There is no tension here. The possessed Anthony appears and disappears as if he has the ability to teleport and move around. Incidents that occur on set that haunt the crew are not graded, nothing escalates, we are immediately beaten up and the subject is dropped. Lacking sensitivity and tact, Satan immediately starts imitating his betters, but when he appears in front of the cameras (literally), his powerful entrance is hard to beat. Overall, Miller seems completely lost, as if he can’t decide what he wants to shoot for half the film, and when he finally decides, he falls into a B-grade horror film that replicates overexposed films. Balancing an open door has always been a traditional domain, but here the director takes a big leap and slams his shoulder into the door frame.

I realize that when we go to see a Hollywood horror movie, we usually don’t have very high expectations. They are often so low that even ordinary people enjoy them. But in this case, it’s worse, because a very good initial idea was wasted. This requires lifelong penance.

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