I came to The Exorcist III on Isaac (of Isaacs Picture Conclusions)’s recommendation, expecting a B-movie. The film is awash with B-movie characteristics: the script is a hodge-podge of supernatural and serial killer clichés, with a climax that feels tacked-on because it is (the studio demanded the film end with an exorcism, and you can see the joins from its awkwardly insertion into the screenplay). And Fabio makes a cameo appearance as an angel!
And yet, the pleasures of The Exorcist III exceed its cult trappings. The script is elevated by larger-than-life performances from George C. Scott and Brad Dourif and, honestly, the story is much smarter than it initially seems (for example, a last act twist is hinted at early on via an elderly lady’s voice in a confessional). The film is remarkably restrained, with little violence shown on screen outside of that aforementioned exorcism.
Director William Peter Blatty (the writer of The Exorcist), who would never direct again, is responsible for the film’s success. He shoots the film with religious reverence – the cinematography is opulent, ornamental … even sacramental. The use of carefully-positioned static shots ensures that the film’s scant scares resonate long after the movie has ended.
9 thoughts on “The Exorcist III (1990)”
Very very underrated, especially since George C. Scott is in it!
He brings a real sense of gravitas to a role that could have been quite silly in another’s hands. It would have been interesting to see how Lee Cobb (who played the character in the first film) would’ve handled the role, had he been alive, though.
EXCELLENT!! You KNOW you didn’t see that part in the hallway coming! One of my favorite scenes!!
That scene was really well done! It developed that foreboding atmosphere perfectly (its effect was marred a bit because my partner arrived home from work right in the middle of it, so I was trying to focus and say hello to her!). I love how it just peers, almost voyeuristically, at the characters from a static, distant position.
YEP!! Love it!!
There’s so many things that stand out in this to me. Like when Scott’s talking about the fish in his bathtub. Or when it just shows the exterior of the house and you hear the phone ring. Scott answers it, long pause, “What are you telling me?” Cut to the hospital. Beautiful!
Nice review! I always get excited when someone discusses my favorite film of all time.
Thanks! I should have credited you as well as theipc – I thought you’d recommended this film, but I remembered some comments/post(s) from Isaac about it and figured I must have just got the two of your conflated. A surprisingly good film.
Nice review, 3 isn’t perfect but its a far superior sequel to the second movie. They should have just skipped to this one. The infamous nurse moment however is still one of the very best jump scares in all of cinema. Deserves a lot of credit for that!
Thanks. It’s certainly far from perfect – the script can bear most of the blame (not just the awkwardly inserted exorcism climax, but the relatively cliched serial killer stuff) but the overt theatricality and – as you mention – really effective scares paper over most of the holes. Certainly a film I’d recommend to those who hadn’t seen it. Thanks for the comment!