The Exorcist: 4K UHD Review

Celebrating its’ 50th anniversary this year is the feature film adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, which was directed by the late William Friedkin. The film would go on to have two sequels, the awful Exorcist II and the surprisingly good Exorcist III. Years later we would get two different versions of a prequel, a television series and another sequel which will be released in a few weeks. None of the projects that followed would have the same impact as the original, which has become a timeless horror classic, that has been celebrated by generations of film lovers. This week Warner Bros. delivers the long-awaited 4K UHD which is timed perfectly for the spooky season.

Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is currently living in Georgetown, Washington with her mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn), who is there shooting her latest movie. Things seem to be going along smoothly, until Regan starts acting strangely. What starts with violent outbursts and profanity, quickly escalates. After a series of painful tests, Doctors conclude that Regan needs to see psychiatric help. However, her mother is not so sure. When Regan’s bed begins to shake violently and furniture begins to movie, it becomes clear that the young girl is truly possessed by something evil.

In comes Father Karras (Jason Miller), a priest that has lost his faith and only agrees to meet Regan to see if she is mentally unwell. It turns out that even a doubter like Karras can be convinced that Regan is indeed under the control of a demon or devil. While Karras does get permission from the church to perform an exorcism, he must assist the more experienced Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) in the dangerous task.

While much of the attention has been given to Blair for her performance (and rightfully so, as she was put through the ringer during production), Burstyn and Miller, both give great performances and are a major reason why the film works so well. The frustration Chris feels when she knows something truly horrific is happening to her little girl and nobody seems to see it but her. Burstyn does an amazing job showing us the anger and fear her character feels.

Over the years, one of the biggest issues fans have mentioned in-regards to the previous Blu-ray releases were the alterations to the film’s color palate. While those details bothered some more than others, that was never a major issue for me personally. While the brand new 2160p/ HDR transfer looks absolutely fantastic, those color issues have not gone away, but they have been toned down quite a bit, so they will be much less offensive to the film’s purist fanbase. The daytime shots of Georgetown as-well-as some of the brighter shots within the MacNeil home look better than they ever have, Same goes for the detail in Regan’s demonic makeup. The brand new Dolby Atmos mix is definitely the way to go when viewing either the Theatrical or Director’s Cut of The Exorcist. The audio upgrade alone is worth upgrading from the disappointing Blu-ray.

While the new 4K release doesn’t fix everything for everyone, it is still by far the best presentation of the horror classic that we have available to us and if you are a fan, I recommend picking up this release.

Bonus Content:

The Exorcist Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (theatrical version) contains the following previously released special features:

  • Introduction by William Friedkin
  • Commentary by William Friedkin
  • Commentary by William Peter Blatty with Special Sound Effects

The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut Ultra HD Blu-ray disc contains the following previously released special features:

  • Commentary by William Friedkin

By: Marc Ferman