The Exorcism Review: Russell Crowe Nearly Saves a Meta Horrorshow (2024)

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  • A Self-Reflexive Exorcism: The Muddled Movie Behind the Movie

  • Adam Goldberg Is Great as a Bad Director

  • David Hyde Pierce Is a Delight While Sam Worthington Gets Shafted

  • Russell Crowe Is a Towering Force in Meta Movie That Loses Its Edge

Rest in peace, William Friedkin. He won his Oscar gold for The French Connection, but let's not forget he was also nominated for The Exorcist (1973). The franchise lives on, and it's all thanks to the original and its stellar cast that includes Jason Miller, who plays the iconic Father Karras in the film (and in The Exorcist III). Decades later, the actor's real-life son is tackling his own possession horror film with a slightly different title — The Exorcism. From an uber-meta script he wrote with M.A. Fortin, director Joshua John Miller's new film hits theaters this week. It probably isn't what you think, especially if you think it's just like The Exorcist.

In fact, The Exorcism is more of a deconstruction of The Exorcist and horror filmmaking itself. The ancestry from director Joshua John Miller to actor Jason Miller connects the films along with its title, which was originally The Georgetown Project (Friedkin filmed The Exorcist on location in Georgetown and the story was loosely based on an exorcism at Georgetown University Hospital and other hospitals in the 1940s). This 2024 film is thus a meta take on the possession genre, placing Russell Crowe in yet another exorcism story, except unlike 2023's The Pope's Exorcist, now Crowe is playing Anthony, a washed-up actor playing a priest in a movie.

The end result isn't as impactful as you might hope, but some fun supporting turns and the movie-within-a-movie approach might be enough to keep you hooked.

A Self-Reflexive Exorcism: The Muddled Movie Behind the Movie

The Exorcism Review: Russell Crowe Nearly Saves a Meta Horrorshow (1)
The Exorcism (2024)





A troubled actor, Anthony Miller, portrayed by Russell Crowe, begins to unravel while shooting a supernatural horror film. His daughter, Lee, played by Ryan Simpkins, suspects his erratic behavior might be due to his past addictions or something far more sinister. As the film progresses, the line between reality and the supernatural blurs, leading to a tense and chilling climax.

Release Date
June 7, 2024
Joshua John Miller , M.A. Fortin
Russell Crowe , Ryan Simpkins , Chloe Bailey , Sam Worthington , Adam Goldberg , David Hyde Pierce

93 Minutes

First thing's first, Miller knows his way around a camera when it comes to directing. Just watch that elegant opening take, where an unnamed actor (presumably the guy hired to play the priest before Crowe's Anthony was brought in as a last resort) struts the set of the movie-within-a-movie to practice his lines. It's a great introduction to a film about a possibly cursed film (a la David Lynch's final masterpiece, Inland Empire).

Miller and writing partner Fortin now have two meta scripts under their belt, following The Final Girls (2015). Could a trilogy be rounded out down the line? Miller has stated that this latest effort is an "FU letter to Hollywood," the culmination of 40 years in the industry (like his father, Miller has also starred in classic horror films, such as Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Near Dark). Perhaps a third film will solidify the themes explored in The FInal Girls and The Exorcism.

But for now, The Exorcism has a few more perks than its excellent opening, such as Adam Goldberg playing Peter, the misogynistic director of the movie that will now star Anthony after the first actor mysteriously dropped out. And that right there is just one example of how there are a few convenient unanswered questions that allow for certain plot holes to be forgiven. More specifically, Anthony doesn't seem to ask a whole lot of questions as to why the first hire dropped out. There's another glaring example of this in the final act, but that's mostly small potatoes.


The Exorcist: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts That Haunted The Cast

While it has been 50 years since it was released, this movie’s impact can still be witnessed in horror films to date.

Adam Goldberg Is Great as a Bad Director

Maybe Anthony doesn't dwell on questions like this because he struggles with addiction, and he's desperate for work after a troubled and not-so-successful career. So, when opportunity comes knocking on his door, he pounces. He even gets his estranged teenage daughter Lee (Ryan Simpkins) involved in the production as a PA.

Lee proceeds to cozy up with fellow crew member Blake (the sharply appealing Chloe Bailey, sister to Halle), but the juicier hook belongs to Peter's horrid treatment of the troubled Anthony on set. It's the kind of role Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan, Fargo) clearly has a ball playing, as his director character tears into Anthony on set to get the performance he needs, seemingly knowing all of Anthony's deep dark secrets involving failed parenting, drug use, and worse. Adam Goldberg is incredible here, representative of the more dictatorial aspects of Hollywood power (something director Miller has certainly experienced as an actor in horror movies himself).

Watch Our Interview with Russell Crowe for The Pope's Exorcist Below:

David Hyde Pierce Is a Delight While Sam Worthington Gets Shafted

Then there's Frasier alum David Hyde Pierce playing a priest and advisor on the fictional film that the characters are trying to pull off. His approachable, charming, and witty demeanor as Father Conor serves as a sort of bright spot for The Exorcism, and it helps that Pierce just has that likable air to him.

As Anthony starts to lose his grip on his sanity and reality throughout the production, and his daughter and others worry about relapse and possible supernatural forces at work on set, Father Conor is there to put their minds at ease. Too bad that things don't usually end well in horror movies.

It's also too bad that a certain big-name actor is vastly underused in The Exorcism. Playing Anthony's possible replacement (yes, director Peter will just keep replacing the priest actor again and again, no matter the cost) is Avatar alum Sam Worthington as Joe, a handsome, esteemed actor who's ready to step up to the plate as Anthony seems to lose his mind to the possession-related forces at bay.


10 Forgotten Exorcism Films You Can Watch on Tubi Now

Want to get your exorcism movie fix? Get on Tubi and watch these obscure and decent films of the infamous subgenre.

While Sam Worthington's scenes are unfortunately limited, the plus side is it gives more screen time to two-time Oscar-winner Crowe, who seems clearly committed to the role and might even make up for the rather thin nature of the rest of the story. "Tour de force" is just one term that comes to mind in thinking about Crowe's brand of acting, and one could even say it applies to his leading turn in The Exorcism. There's a personal edge, an anxiety, a disheveled honesty to his work here that is magnetic.

The meta film loses its footing to cheap-ish horror thrills in the third act, with a conclusion that ties things up way too neatly, but we'd be intrigued to see what writing duo Fortin and Miller can cook up next, self-reflexive or otherwise.

From Vertical, The Exorcism will be playing in theaters Friday, June 21, 2024.

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The Exorcism Review: Russell Crowe Nearly Saves a Meta Horrorshow (2024)


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