Exorcisms have always been a major interest of people because every religion talks about the idea of spiritual possession. This interest is clearly demonstrated in the recent increase of movies about exorcisms. However, none of these recently made movies have the lasting effect and cultural impact as the movie The Exorcist (1973). The Exorcist is consistent with many actual religious beliefs about possession.
The movie tells the story of the possession of Regan MacNeil, and Father Lankester Merrin’s and Father Damien Karras’s fight with the demon inside of her. Throughout the movie, Regan experiences several paranormal occurrences that lead her mother, Chris, to realize that something is wrong with her daughter. Chris witnesses her daughters levitate above her bed, demonstrate great physical strength, and speak in a very demonic voice. All of these characteristics are consistent with actual beliefs about exorcisms. In Christian Scriptures, it is mentioned that a demon can give its host special powers and that it can also speak through the person. It is because of this that Chris reaches out for help from Father Karras. Later in the movie, when Father Karras, with the help of Father Merrin, are actually conducting the exorcism on Regan, other things happen that are consistent with actual beliefs about demonic possession. During the ceremony, Regan taunts both priests, especially Father Karras. The demon talks to him using his sick mother’s voice. According to Mark Bancroft, “Spirits who communicate with the living through channelers often provide certain facts relating to specific individuals in the audience which the person channeling could not possibly have known.” At the end of the ceremony, Father Karras convinces the demon to leave Regan’s body and enter his before killing himself. Reagan than returns to normal, without memory of anything that had happened to her.