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Eavesdropping at the Movies: 400 – The Nun II and The Exorcist: Believer

Listen on the players above, Apple PodcastsAudible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

You can also hear our discussion of 2018’s The Nun, and our podcast on The Exorcist, part of our exploration of the oeuvre of William Friedkin.

For our 400th episode we indulge in a pair of horror sequels, both heavy on faith, possession, and Christianity. One is part of a modern universe of interconnected stories, characters, and demons, the other represents the reignition of a series whose sequels have been produced intermittently for fifty years without receiving anything like the acclaim of the film that spawned them. The Nun II is the eighth film in the ten-year-old Conjuring Universe; The Exorcist: Believer is only the sixth Exorcist film in half a century. Truly, they don’t make them like they used to.

Neither film in this double bill is very good in totality, but The Nun II contains imaginative and effective set pieces and visual ideas, while The Exorcist: Believer is content to discard a reasonably interesting first act in favour of useless and charmless reference to, and pathetic reenactment of, William Friedkin’s 1973 original. We discuss what we think the films are about, wittingly or otherwise – horror is commonly understood to often allegorise and express the ills and worries of the societies that produce them, and we consider the ways in which these films might be doing so. And there’s much to compare and contrast between them, including their characters’ attitudes to the supernatural; the ways in which religion, be it Catholicism specifically or Christianity more generally, plays into their stories and atmospheres; and the kinds of imagery through which they attempt to instil fear in their audiences. And we take time to criticise many, many examples of the weakness of the storytelling in Believer.

The Nun II, like its 2018 predecessor, is not very good, but it is fun. The Exorcist: Believer is neither good nor fun. Happy 400th episode!

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 242 – The Exorcist

Listen on the players above, on Apple Podcasts, or on Spotify.

No exploration of William Friedkin would be complete without The Exorcist, 1973’s iconic horror about a little girl possessed by a demon, and so watch it we do.

We watch the theatrical cut, which Mike’s excited to see, since the only one he’s seen before is “The Version You’ve Never Seen”, the extended cut released in 2000, and he finds this version superior, with better pacing and fewer distractions. José has always had a significant problem with the crucifix scene, and we go into why, and he argues that the film exhibits a desire to shock above all else that is typical of Friedkin. Mike argues for the sympathy we feel for Father Karras and his centrality – Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin is in theory the eponymous exorcist, but is that actually the case? And we think over much more besides, including the thrill of the special effects, the disparity between how Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells is used and its subsequent iconic synonimity with the film, whether the film should be clearer about the boundaries of its demon’s abilities, and ultimately, the fact that it’s so famous – or is that infamous? – that even Mike’s mum still references the projectile vomit bit.

José’s video note on the connection between The Exorcist and No News From God:

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

 

Connections: The Exorcist (1973) and Sin noticias de Dios (2001)

What’s your idea of heaven? No News from God makes The Exorcist’s idea of it come true. I think my idea of heaven might also be singing samba to an adoring public in a Paris nightclub looking like Victoria Abril does here.