Russell Crowe turns The Exorcism into a moving and harrowing psychological drama with plenty of scares

The Exorcism - Fred Norris/Lightsavior Productions, LLC
The Exorcism - Fred Norris/Lightsavior Productions, LLC /

Russell Crowe stars in his second exorcism-centered movie in two years, The Exorcism is a far cry from the campiness of The Pope's Exorcist. This time, Crowe plays a troubled actor and recovering alcoholic who gets cast as a priest in a horror movie.

As he becomes increasingly engrossed in the role, he begins lashing out violently and becoming a much darker version of himself. His daughter, Lee (Ryan Simpkins), becomes increasingly concerned that her dad is falling back into old habits or that something demonic might be at work.

The Exorcism is a decent film that provides a refreshing take on a storyline we've seen done many times before. There are many horror movies about demonic possessions, but The Exorcism treads new ground by focusing more on the emotional beats in the story and careful character building anchored by Crowe's profound and moving performance as actor Anthony Miller.

I think the first half of the film is a little stronger than the latter, as the horror elements remain somewhat ambiguous. The audience is left to question whether something supernatural is occurring or if the stress of making this movie is pushing Anthony back into old and unhealthy habits. The real horror stems from the tragic and fraught relationship between Anthony and his daughter.

Part of him is desperate to reconnect with her and make her proud after everything they've been through, but he also has a dark presence lurking inside, threatening to eradicate everything he's been working for all this time.

Frequent horror watchers likely won't be too scared by the exorcism stuff that happens in the latter half of the movie, but there's still plenty to enjoy here and a few genuinely shocking moments that should keep viewers on their toes.

The Exorcism, like the fictional movie at its center, is very much a dark psychological drama that slowly builds to a tremendous and terrifying crescendo that plays to Crowe's strengths as an actor as he really demonstrates his acting prowess and carries the film, pushing it from an ordinary horror movie to something memorable and surprisingly unique.

The Exorcism is now playing in theaters. To stay up to date on thrillers, sci-fi, and horror, bookmark 1428 Elm and follow our Facebook page and Twitter account!