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.