At the same time as an eerie force seems to have been unleashed during an archaeological dig in the Middle East, an 11-year-old American girl (Linda Blair) is suffering from an incurable condition that leads her mother (Ellen Burstyn) to enlist the help of a priest (Max Von Sydow). The priest's diagnosis is demonic possession and he suggests the girl undergo an exorcism.

3.5
Great but still overrated.

This director's cut of the classic horror film, which originally opened in Australian cinemas 28 years ago this month, is 11 minutes longer than it was before. Director William Friedkin, who made it just after his breakthrough hit, The French Connection, and writer William Peter Blatty have worked together on the new version. Most of those 11 extra minutes are interesting and one of them is genuinely exciting. You must know the plot by now – in Washington DC, where her mother, Ellen Burstyn, an actress, is appearing in a film, little Regan, Linda Blair, becomes possessed by the devil.

A major addition here is a medical examination Regan undergoes, during which she first shows signs of a demonic character. There's also a brief but amazing shot in which the possessed child crawls on her back, like a deformed spider, down the stairs of the family home. New technology allows for brief flashes of demonic masks, which don't add a great deal, and the jokey ending falls terribly flat (the original, rather abrupt, conclusion was far more effective). The Exorcist was always a bit long-winded and too self-important to be a really great horror film, but the fine performance of Max Von Sydow as the exorcist and the amazing Linda Blair, made it a disturbing experience. It's certainly worth another look or, if you've never seen it before, a chance to see, on the big screen, one of the hit films of 1973.