The Exorcism review: "The Russell Crowe horror veers more ridiculous than terrifying"

Russell Crowe in The Exorcism
(Image: © Vertical Entertainment)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Genre fans might get a kick – and a giggle – out of a few moments, but this isn't the scariest or smartest of its kind.

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You know how it goes –you wait years for an exorcist film starring Russell Crowe, and then two come along at once… The Exorcism is not to be confused with 2023’s The Pope’s Exorcist, however. This time, Crowe actually plays an actor playing a priest, and we’re spared his Italian accent. Otherwise, familiar genre conventions are intact, in a meta kind of way.

Anthony Miller (Crowe) is a troubled star who is hoping to stage a comeback in an equally troubled supernatural horror. His predecessor met an untimely end, and rumor has it the production is cursed. Cue strange events and behavior, not least from Miller himself. 

There's some promise in the idea of a film-within-a-film, and there's also the fascinating fact that director and co-writer Joshua John Miller has a personal connection with 1973’s The Exorcist: his dad is Jason Miller, who played Father Damien Karras. While Joshua was born after The Exorcist came out, here Crowe's character has a teenage daughter, Lee (Ryan Simpkins), to witness the mayhem that transpires. 

The rocky relationship between Lee and her father feels convincing enough, and it's great to see a queer storyline take shape as Lee develops feelings for her father's co-star (Chloe Bailey, one of several strong supporting actors). 

But the horror story leans too heavily into what has now become cliché, with Crowe's outbursts seeming increasingly ridiculous rather than terrifying. He's at his best expressing regret about his past, rather than wandering around with crazed eyes and a deep voice.

The Exorcism is released in UK cinemas and US theaters on June 21. 

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