Tag Archives: The Exorcist

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.

Eavesdropping at the Movies 71 – Hereditary – Second Screening



We go deep on Hereditary, occult/folk horror, and indeed horror in a wider perspective with guest contributor and horror guru Dr. Matt Denny from the University of Warwick, a film scholar with a particular interest in precisely the milieu Hereditary occupies.  He brings an insightful and informed perspective to the film, picking up the baton where Mike and I dropped it in the previous podcast, and running off with it.

We consider what the occult sub-genre is, what makes such stories interesting and where Hereditary in particular digresses from them, and the effects that has. Matt offers a historical perspective on the treatment of women in horror and how the film puts forth a muddled version of that, and the influence of Kubrick (in particular The Shining) on the film. We consider Mike’s dislike of how the film hides information or clues behind codes, and Matt suggests that this is really just a function of how this type of film works – and indeed how the occult works. And is it reasonable that Mike associates the occult film with British cinema in particular? We also discuss the cost and benefit of  the film operating in between genres and return to the question of whether the film might be misogynist. Andrew Griffin raised the question of the film as an allegorical attack on the US religious right that José forgot to bring into the discussion but that some of you might have views on (and if you do please share them.

All this and more in a fascinating discussion.


The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

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

Eavesdropping at the Movies 70 — Hereditary


An accomplished film, with good use of long takes that nonetheless feels visually and narratively unsatisfactory. I hated the grey look of the film and how little attention seems to have been paid to the use of colour. Our conversation includes considerations of the compositions and props, including repeated imagery of miniature models of the family’s home, and complaints that it feels that the film’s various patternings don’t add up, or at least we can’t add them up: we feel they’re meant to be expressive but we can’t figure out what layers of expression they might be adding.

The Horror genre has been the most consistent and incisive of genres in critiquing American culture recently but is this a particularly good example of it?. What are these film’s themes and what is it saying? Mike compares it to Kill List, It Follows and we digress onto a discussion of The Exorcist. We wonder if it might be part of the film’s project to go off the rails. If so, it succeed. We both love Toni Collette but we discuss also how  in its cruel and brutal treatment and imagery of women there might be a whiff of misogyny, in spite of a potentially feminist slant of Toni Collette’s character voicing things women might feel but are rarely allowed to express. Is it as clever as it thinks it is? What is it about? Mike really likes the way the camera is used, how it frames and re-frames in long-take, how that enables an appreciation of the performances and earns the trust of the viewer. Gabriel Byrne is wasted.



The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.


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