The murderous fisherman with a hook is back to once again stalk the two surviving teens, Julie and Ray, who left him for dead, as well as cause even more murder and mayhem, this time at a posh island resort.
Jennifer Love Hewitt,
Freddie Prinze Jr.,
Dr. Gene Tuskin works with troubled children, perhaps none more troubled than Regan MacNeil, who suffers from bad dreams and repressed memories. The memories she represses are of the time she was possessed by a demon. Dr. Tuskin's invention, a device that hypnotizes two persons and links their minds together, reveals that the demon, named Pazuzu, still lurks within her. It is desperate to emerge again and wreak havoc. Meanwhile, Father Philip Lamont is ordered by his cardinal to investigate the death of Father Merrin, the priest who died while performing an exorcism on Regan. Father Lamont undertakes his task reluctantly. He feels unworthy of his assignment. He also feels that Evil is literally an entity and that this entity is winning the battle over Good. His investigation takes him to Africa where he locates another recipient of Merrin's exorcising and learns something fascinating and terrible about locusts. Written by
I liked this when it came out and I still do. The bad press on it began immediately, and all the reviewers jumped on the bandwagon; only one of the reviews seemed to correlate with what showed on the screen. I think the time was wrong for mysticism, and maybe for religion: the sixties had ended, and the mode of fantasy then in favor was space fantasy, full of technical detail. A couple of decades later, the climate is different: "Stigmata", which has a story not unlike that of "Exorcist II," and looks and feels so much like it that it might almost be the same film with different actors morphed in, didn't get good reviews but wasn't laughed out of theatres either.
Most of the people who like "Exorcist II" tend not to have liked "Exorcist I" much, and vice versa. Blatty himself said in one interview that it didn't work because the director was a Protestant, and in another interview that it was because he wasn't a believer. To me the second film shows more spiritual feeling than the first, but no interest at all in the Church, and maybe in some minds that equates to unreligiousness.
The first "Exorcist" purported to be about possession, but most of its imagery was of a young girl being raped: by her mother's party guests, by doctors, by priests, by a crucifix. "Exorcist II" actually is about possession, among other things, and culminates in the interesting idea (excised after release but later restored on video and DVD) that people who have been possessed and purged of evil can go forth to heal all the others who are similarly afflicted. I happen to think that's an inspiring idea for a story.
But then I like mystical thrillers, and apparently most filmgoers don't--or didn't then. The first "Exorcist" was not one; this is. The images in the first film, when they don't involve repulsive bodily detail, have no metaphysical resonance; they're relentlessly physical, often sexual, and when the demon itself appears, it's in the form of the actual, literal statue. By contrast the images in "Exorcist II" have deliberate metaphysical implications. I doubt that they were worked out thoroughly; it's more as if Boorman were playing with them, in the same way he lets the light play through the stylized sets and behind the actors. The scenes of possession capture the sense of historical accounts of the phenomenon more than those in the first film, which is too much distracted by physical threat and sexual aberration.
Like "Exorcist II" or no, take it seriously or no, I was and am puzzled why more people were unable to enjoy its appeal to the eye and the ear (the music was pretty too), let alone to the imagination. I think perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to enjoy it: that they had to deride it and be seen to deride it because what it said, or the way in which it was said, was something that they had just learned to reject or that contradicted something they had just learned to believe.
It must be admitted that the film is unsatisfactory dramatically. The fantastic incidents of the first film, besides being reduced to the most prosaic physical terms, were fitted within a sequence of conventional, punchy, easily playable scenes; one cared about Ellen Burstyn's problems in a movieish way, and through her Linda Blair's. In the sequel Blair doesn't have the scenes to play, and her inexperience as an actress keeps one from feeling involved with her; Burton is better, but his dialogue doesn't communicate the spiritual dilemma he's undergoing. The excitements of the narrative tend rather to distract from this also. But I found them fun in their own right, and the film as well, apart from the occasional gratuitous shock for shock's sake: fun for the mind and the fancy.
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