UW-Eau Claire offers weekend showing of ‘The Exorcist’ after spring break

Film showing offers a look back at some of the most important scenes in cinema history

UW-Eau Claire offers weekend showing of ‘The Exorcist’ after spring break

To take “The Exorcist” from horror is to take Michael Jordan from basketball. Without them, at a basic level the spectacle would remain the same, but there’s no denying the film genre owes as much to the 1973 classic as the sport owes the ‘90s athletic superstar.

In terms of scary movies, “The Exorcist” is a wet dream — a dream drenched with green vomit, that is. With iconic scenes at every turn, it’s sometimes difficult to look past its cultural significance to appreciate just how terrifying this movie was and still is.

The story chronicles the attempts of two Catholic priests to save a 12-year-old girl from the clutches of an ancient demon. Old and wizened Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) and a younger, doubting Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) team up to take on Pazuzu, an ageless dark entity from Persian mythology who has possessed Regan MacNeill (Linda Blair).

The film follows the valiant efforts of the two priests as Pazazu struggles and retaliates in a series of supernaturally hellish acts. Karras observes the calm and experienced ministrations of the older Merrin while he wrestles with his own demons of fear and faithlessness. Escalating with each scene, the tension of the film builds until the thundering conclusion.

While special effects have improved exponentially since “The Exorcist” showed in theaters — and, as a result, it’s much more difficult to scare today’s desensitized audiences — the 1973 classic has aged surprisingly well for a horror film. Sure, it may be hard to take the green vomit seriously (Admittedly, “Scary Movie 2” may have ruined that bit for me forever), but there are still parts where I found myself eyeing the darkened corners of my living room warily. After 43 years, “The Exorcist” still packs an unnerving punch.

While “The Exorcist” may seem like a cliché and unoriginal film at first glance, this is because hundreds of horror films have copied its groundbreaking tropes in the decades since. Modern viewers have seen the same techniques regurgitated a hundred times, but it’s still important to recognize the original and to acknowledge that, after all these years, “The Exorcist” still remains one of the most expertly crafted horror films to date.

Perhaps this is because it’s more than simply a horror film. “The Exorcist” is a surprisingly compelling story with dynamic acting and deeper explorations of faith and fear than is usually seen in the typical slasher film variety.

“The Exorcist” stands as a cornerstone of film and offers a great experience to anyone willing to venture into its demonic subject matter.

UW-Eau Claire will be showing “The Exorcist” at 7 p.m. April 1, at 2 and 7 p.m. April 2, and 2 p.m. April 3 in the Woodland Theater.