The 25 Greatest Films of All-Time

23. The Exorcist

One of horror’s finest and most defining films is unfortunately too often the victim of silly parody. Spewing pea soup is momentarily funny, but nothing should distract us from the quality and effect this film has had through the decades since its release. Set among the misty homes of Georgetown, evil does not lurk behind every single corner. It’s not even hiding in your closet. It’s right in front of you, in the sickening snarl of a possessed child. While most horror victims have been at least teenagers, The Exorcist showed us the torment a young girl is forced to endure when a demon takes over her soul.

As her body breaks down, we feel every inch of her pain as scars and sores break out across her face. The film forces us to observe this at length, far longer than we are comfortable with. Unlike most modern horror films, The Exorcist has nearly zero reliance on jump scares. It opts for unrelentingly ferocious sound design and sharp dialogue being spat by a creature of pure anger and hate. By the time the titular priest arrives to save young Regan, we’ve nearly forgotten that any form of help was coming at all.

Image Source: IMDb