A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film hints that faith can save and redeem people, but in general, violence prevails in a dark world.
Positive Role Models
Father Merrin demonstrates immense courage by sacrificing his own life to save a possessed girl. He perseveres through the evil force's insults and assaults and never stops trying to defeat it. The younger priest, Father Karras, also sacrifices his life to save an innocent one. Chris shows courage and love by standing by her daughter throughout these trials.
All characters are White. Father Merrin and Father Karras portray Catholicism in a positive light, selflessly fighting evil. Elder priest Merrin is a guiding light in this otherwise dark film and mentors the younger Karras. Chris shows courage and love by standing by her daughter, Regan, even when Regan can no longer recognize her. But extreme violence against women, seen through Regan's horrifying self-harm and abuses thrown at her mother, victimizes rather than empowers them.
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Violence & Scariness
Extreme violence, gore, and psychological torture. Upon demonic possession, a main character kills someone off-screen and repeatedly punches and slaps others. Grotesque appearances include bulging and darkened eyes, sores, and extreme scarring. There's projectile vomit, and a character crawls upside down along a flight of stairs, rotating her head completely around. A character harshly and repeatedly stabs her crotch with a cross while laughing hysterically. Verbal abuse targets characters' traumas and insecurities, and two positive characters die -- one by falling out of a window and rolling down flights of stairs, blood pooling.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A possessed young girl lewdly propositions priests and repeatedly stabs her crotch with a cross while chanting "let Jesus f--k you" and "lick me."
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A little girl taken over by the devil doesn't hold back in the swearing department: "F--k," "f--got," "c--ksucker," "c--t," "s--t," "bastard," "ass," and "hell." Characters say "Christ" and "Jesus" both in religious contexts and also as exclamations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social imbibing, and a character is drunk at a party. Mention of pills and pot.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Exorcist is a terrifying 1970s horror film about a young girl who becomes demonically possessed and violent. Expect extreme gore, grotesque effects (bulging eyes, sores, etc.), and scares, and two important characters die. A girl repeatedly stabs her crotch with a cross and crawls a flight of stairs upside down, turning her head completely around. She also frequently says "f--k," "f--got," "c--ksucker," "c--t," "s--t," "bastard," "ass," and "hell." Though the film generally shows darkness prevailing, it hints at hope, and characters demonstrate positive strengths such as courage, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This shockingly violent film was reported to have made audience members faint when it first came out in the 1970s. Director William Friedkin defined the modern horror genre with The Exorcist, using perversion and brutality as key traits. Thanks in part to Blair's wrenching, Oscar-nominated performance, the film was a huge hit, earning 10 times its $10 million budget -- a then-lavish sum for a horror flick. Movie historians cite it (along with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as the conclusive end of old-school spook shows featuring Dracula and Frankenstein and bobbing rubber bats. The moans, snarls, and profane words from Regan (most are actually the dubbed-in voice of a well-known older actress, Mercedes McCambridge) amount to some of the most chilling audio ever done for film. And the infamous effects of projectile vomit and blood, blaspheming, and general obscenity remain as disturbing today as ever.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.