The priest tells her that maybe her father is so occupied with his work as a method actor that he brings the method home. For once, an over-the-top Hollywood horror film chooses not to use a priest as an expository character. These are definitely fascinating ideas, and the film does benefit from a solid Russell Crowe performance until the hour mark. However, towards the end, we are inundated with horror film cliches, making many of the exchanges seem like mere mumbo jumbo.

Even Crowe’s performance starts to seem like a distraction and he starts to feel too much like the actor he plays in the film. It is a surprise, for even in The Pope’s Exorcist, his mere presence and performance with a sheepish smile was sufficient to elevate the film from its shallow depths. But this is not the case here.

Writer-director Joshua John Miller and MA Fortin’s screenplay contains some inexplicable flashback sequences that convolute the plot. The film barely reveals the identity of a youngster who faces abuse from an older male.

The victim is possibly a younger version of Miller, and the perpetrator is perhaps his father. But without enough information, you find it difficult to understand. The more you watch the flashback sequences, the more it gives the impression of a screenplay that pretends to have nuance where there is none. As a result, you end up watching the climactic showdown with a strong sense of emotional detachment from the characters.

The other, major dealbreaker is the gimmicky treatment of the otherwise serious material. In some ways, The Exorcism has the potential to be a solid satire about the film industry, much like how Late Night With The Devil is one about television.

In other ways, it has the potential to explore the challenges of being a single parent in the guise of a horror film, as is the case with The Babadook. But The Exorcism squanders its potential and succumbs to the same demonic cliches it deals with.

Film: The Exorcism

Director: Joshua John Miller

Cast: Russell Crowe, Adam Goldberg, Ryan Simpkins, Sam Worthington, David Hyde Pierce

Rating : 2/5

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