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'The Exorcism' Review: Russell Crowe and Exorcisms, Sound Familiar?

By Jack Ransom June 21, 2024
The Exorcism

Since 2020’s gloriously mean-spirited and ridiculous Unhinged, Russell Crowe has largely found himself relishing hamming it up in supporting roles (Thor: Love & Thunder) or leading lower budget genre flicks (most notably the surprisingly successful The Pope’s Exorcist). Here he once again proves to be the best part of what is ultimately another generic possession movie that squanders its unique concept.


The Exorcism sees a troubled actor (Russell Crowe) begin to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter (Ryan Simpkins) wonders if he's slipping back into his past addictions or if there's something more sinister at play.


Firstly, this was originally called 'The Georgetown Project' and was swiftly changed to its incredibly generic current title and released a poster that pretty much copied The Pope’s Exorcist exactly. The initial hook is ripe for commentary on the admittedly now stagnant exorcism sub-genre and the first 30 or so minutes genuinely had my interest as it blends the filmmaking process with the struggles of Anthony’s mental health and titbits of supernatural superstition… before turning exactly into what it is commentating on and devolving into boring jump scares, a messy unfocused plot and lack of context, that drags out the remaining hour in a repetitive loop.

From a technical perspective the film is actually quite solid. There are some unique shots throughout (the opening scene apes Hereditary quite effectively) and the moody, downbeat atmosphere is palpable. The scares are lacklustre and by the time the inevitable cheesy, badly lit possession sequence roars into screen in a whirlwind of Crowe, CGI fire and blood I was just on autopilot.

The Exorcism

Crowe treads the line between sluggish and committed (reshoots took place nearly four years after the initial shoot, so I’m not surprised if he was past caring at this point). Anthony isn’t a particularly interesting character and Crowe attempts to make is grief, behaviours and attempt at redemption engaging, but really it’s only interesting when he’s going wild in the finale sequence. Ryan Simpkins delivers the angsty teenage daughter role well and Sam Worthington I’m pretty sure has about 2 minutes screen time.

The only thing to fear in The Exorcism is that your time once again will be wasted on this horror sub-genre. The idea has genuine potential and it starts off well enough, Crowe has his moments and the direction is solid. However, the lacklustre scares, poor narrative pacing and meandering structure let it down. Please can we just have The Pope’s Exorcist 2?

Star Rating

Rating When Evil Lurks

The Exorcism is out now in cinemas


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