The Exorcist 4K art

The Exorcist (4K Ultra HD Review)

Linda Blair - The Exorcist 50th anniversary

Without reservation, The Exorcist is one of the scariest films of all-time. Originally released on December 26th of 1973, the film’s success is attributed to the award-winning direction of William Friedkin and flawless writing of William Peter Blatty. Blatty, who wrote the 1971 novel of the same name, in addition to the film’s screenplay, captures the deepest fears and emotions of humanity while tackling the idea of spirituality. Interestingly, and perhaps not entirely well-known, the story behind The Exorcist is indeed based in some fact; inspired by a 1949 case of possession in the Maryland area.  This factor in mind, Blatty’s story plays out amazingly, and the direction of Friedkin is nothing less than outstanding, with him capturing tension, real human emotion, and harnessing it onto the screen.

The two key factors in making The Exorcist the cinematic milestone that it is, it would be unjust to not also credit the cast involved; and this includes Jason Miller as the conflicted Father Damien Karras, Ellen Burstyn as draught mother Chris MacNeil, Lee J. Cobb as the curious, yet thoughtful Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, and of course, Linda Blair as the possessed young Regan MacNeil. A star-studded cast, each bring something unique to the film and draw viewers in for the duration.

All these ingredients considered, The Exorcist remains one of Horrors biggest films ever and still strikes a nerve decades later. Spawning numerous sequels, prequels, spin-offs, as well as a television series, there is even the 2023 release of Exorcist: Believer. Really the pinnacle of Horror cinema, now The Exorcist is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Difficult to believe it has been five decades since the original film was initially released, there have been various different physical format releases of the put out there over the years. This included the 25th anniversary special edition box set released in 1998 on VHS and DVD which has the original ending as a special feature. It also includes “The Version You’ve Never Seen” which was released on VHS and DVD in 2000, a re-release on DVD and Blu-ray with slight alterations as the “Extended Director’s Cut” in 2010, plus a 40th anniversary Blu-ray that was released in 2013, with both cuts, many previously released bonus features and two featurettes about Blatty. A lot to keep track of, in celebration of fifty years fans now have an opportunity to view The Exorcist in 4K.

Released on September 19th in the 4K format, the newest edition is part of the year-long centennial celebration for the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio. Complete with a cardboard slipcase cover, the art is of a film still of a possessed Regan, eyes rolled back and mouth open. Not necessarily the best selection as the art for such a monumental release, regardless, what matters is most is inside the case. That said, inside you have two discs featuring both the 1973 theatrical version of the film and the 2000 Extended Director’s Cut of the film; which features eleven additional minutes of footage not seen in theaters. Presented in 4K, the new found clarity may take you back for a moment. Ultra sharp and full of vivid color, once your eyes adjust to this, you will find yourself mesmerized by detail you may have never seen in prior viewing experiences. Additionally, the audio is nothing less than outstanding; with each piece of dialogue clear and the balance of the mix truly dynamic.

These features considered, there are also commentaries, plus an older introduction of the film by William Friedkin. Rather simplistic in the bonus features, what it does not have, is offered on prior releases. So, if you are someone who enjoys all the extra bonus material such as documentaries, and interviews, then perhaps you should keep your older editions of The Exorcist. However, it is highly recommended to supplement your collection with this edition in 4K… it is well worth it. In all, it is great to experience this film in this presentation, and with the recent passing of William Friedkin in August, it feels like a grand tribute to his mastery. A perfect gift for yourself, or a Horror fan in your family, Cryptic Rock gives The Exorcist 4K edition 5 out of 5 stars.

The Exorcist 4K Ultra HD 50th anniversary art
The Exorcist (4K Ultra HD) Edition / Warner Bros (2023)

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