Ashley Kicklighter's Reviews > The Exorcist

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
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Feb 22, 11

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Read in February, 2011

** spoiler alert ** "Silence. Then something curious happened: Regan’s breath turned suddenly foul... Her daughters features were contorting into a malevolent mask: lips pulling tautly into opposite directions, tumefied tongue lolling wolfish from her mouth,"(140).

The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty, was in my opinion not what it was meant to be. The book is built up to be this fantastic horror, but I was quite disappointed after concluding reading this book. The quote above comes from a passage midway through the book. It is a perfect representation of the author’s writing throughout the book: not particularly frightening, but descriptive and somewhat sickening.

The book opens on a normal description of an actress working on her latest movie. The actress, and mom to Regan, is friendly and opinionated. She has normal struggles and leads a normal life, if the life of an actress can ever be called normal. The book’s light tone starts to change when Regan starts to talk about an imaginary friend, Captain Howdy. Once this character is introduced, the book starts to take a darker tone. Regan soon becomes a different person. She is no longer sweet and innocent. Odd occurrences that I would call more disgusting then scary start to become the norm for Regan and her mom and Regan starts to see doctor after doctor. She is given the possibility of having with a number of different psychological disorders; none of the doctors will accept possession as the true problem. When nothing seems to work a young priest steps in to save the day, but in doing so sacrifices his own life.

Even through all my ranting about how it wasn’t scary enough the author does strike gold in a few places. Regan’s character development plays a key role in adding to the fear of the reader. Her sweet childish demeanor makes it scary to see the demon's hatred and careless treatment towards her. The name she gives the demon is one of the eeriest points of the book, “Captain Howdy, don’t you think my mom is pretty?”(42), Regan says to what seems like no one in particular. Her innocent interpretation of the creature makes it scary that it would be willing to prey on someone who is so pure in intention. The possession of Regan, an innocent bystander, insights a fear of the unknown. This has to do with never knowing whether the demon will target you as its next victim and torture you slowly until you die and being helpless to whatever it pleases to do with you. I think that this part of the book could have been made stronger by better descriptions of the demon and Regan and less time with the medical diagnosis of Regan.

Another portion of the book that is actually scary is the amount of control and power that the demon has over Regan. Regan had to be strapped down to her bed, and given tranquilizers when she became more seriously possessed. The demon’s strength that was expressed through Regan’s body was apparent when it was able to murder one of the characters of the book. The most gruesome part of this is the way the man was said to have died. His neck was completely twisted around and he was thrown across the street where he then fell down the stairs. The detective on the case never even guessed it was Reagan who did it. This is one of the scariest parts of the book to me. The fact that the demon could be so detached to take a person’s life; it had no sense of morals at all, no inhibitions.

Overall this book was scary at points, but I found myself searching deep within my mind to try and find reasons to make the book scarier. While certain points were truly traumatizing, better descriptions and tone in the book could have made them stronger. The demon itself was frightening but only after contemplation. The scariest part of the book in my opinion is that the demon chose Regan, who had no religious or non-religious affiliations. The fact that the demon could pick anyone and is still alive at the end, that it could possess you and render you helpless to its grasp.


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