Written by: David Blackthorn
One of the most terrifying concepts in horror movies is the idea of demonic possession, and an exorcism segment normally adds an intense climax to the story. There are more films dealing with this subject than people may realize, coming out of countries all over the world. While many were less than entertaining, such as The Possessor and The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, there are also some very entertaining ones. A happy ending is far from being a requirement in this type of film, so don’t be surprised by a shocking finish. Sometimes the possessed dies. Sometime the priest dies, Sometimes the priest even ends up possessed. The best you can hope for is to be entertained, despite the outcome. The following is a list of the best ten exorcism scenes in movies in reverse order, ending with the number one exorcism. Grab your favorite crucifix, a bottle of holy water and enjoy.
10 – The Last Exorcism
It’s true that this movie was a disappointment when it was released, falling short of the hype preceding it’s arrival i the theaters. That, however, does not take away from the two cringeworthy acts which take place in these brief moments in the barn. The first was the possessed girl bending over backwards to nearly inhuman proportions, becoming the poster moment of the film. The second was when she begins breaking her own fingers, one at a time. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to entertain us as this scene does.
9 – Stigmata
While this is not a movie around possession by a demon, and the storyline is not superb, there are some enjoyable moments to be found in this film. There have been other movies that have touched on the phenomenon known as stigmata (The Eerie Midnight Horror Show and End of Days being two of them) but none that have showcased it to the degree this piece did. This scene incorporates levitation and fire into the scene but adds something other possession movies do not: the possessed being inhabited by a dead priest.
8 – Dominion: A Prequel To The Exorcist
Of the two movies based on the same screen play, Dominion had the better exorcism scene. It was more intense and packed a little more punch. Exorcist:The Beginning was a good movie, just a little more subtle than this one. While the possessed woman manages a few lewd comments, this one is nowhere near as profane as The Exorcist. I’ve heard that William Peter Blatty was unimpressed with this movie, and it may not be as scary as the original but i feel that Dominion is a very entertaining installment to the film series.
7 – The Devil Inside
While this was not one of the best possession movies of all time, the exorcism scene in the basement was certainly a memorable moment in the film. The contortions the girl went into when they first entered the basement were slightly disturbing and the camera angles and cuts were just right. Though not outstanding as a whole, this movie contained a few memorable and disturbing scenes, this particular segment being the best.
6 – The Possession
This movie was very original, taking on the dibbuk and not your standard demon possession. There were plenty of great moments in this movie but the exorcism scene in the hospital was the highlight of the movie. There is so much about this scene that nears the point of perfection: action, subtle creepiness and a physical manifestation of the demon, all strung together in a gripping little sequence. There are other tasty little horror morsels scattered throughout this film, making it a wonderful little popcorn and family time movie choice.
5 – The Conjuring
This was probably one of the most intense exorcism scenes of any ever filmed, if not the most intense. It was among the most terrifying and certainly had teeth but fell just short of the top three, though barely. Again, differs from other possession films by having the possessed individual inhabited by a dead witch and not a demon. Still, pleasantly frightening scene deserving of a spot on this list.
4 – The Rite
Anthony Hopkins is the master of any role, and this movie was no exception. There were a few exorcism scenes in this one, though the second exorcism on the young woman was the best in the movie. For an unknown actress, she did an amazing job in this particular scene. There is also a bit of symbolism nicely injected into various pieces of this movie. In this case, we see them forego the typical vomiting scene of pea soup or blood and instead have her vomit three nails.
3 – Deliver Us From Evil
Coming in as one of the longest exorcism scenes, this one packs all the punch without using the same old tactics. It’s fresh and original, and terrifying in its own way. As rite is carried out, we see this exorcism unfold in stages, each slightly differing from the previous. With a remarkably original concept, I’m quite certain that this fkick will be remembered as one if the best possession movies made.
2 – The Exorcist
I can already hear the collective gasp. I’m sure many are in awe that this scene did not make the number one spot on this list. First of all, this movie was the best exorcism movie ever made and, most likely, the greatest horror movie ever, but the exorcisms themselves were only outshined by one. The entire movie is gripping and the actors are outstanding in their roles. The face off between the demon and the two priests was beyond haunting and perfectly delivered. This one set the bar for every horror movie which followed, not just films pertaining to possession. This gem combines everything you would expect from an exorcism scene. We get levitation, altered facial features, garbled voices, vomiting and reversed English language. The novel is absolutely outstanding and the movie lives up to it quite impressively.
1 – The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Why would I place this scene in the number one spot, even above the Exorcist? It is a close call between the exorcisms in the first and second spots on this list but this one edges out the greatest possession movie of all time for one main reason. That reason is the absolute passion involved in filming this incredible segment. Forget all the other movies you’ve ever seen Jennifer Carpenter act in. This was the shining performance of her career to this point, proving that she can deliver when the scene movie requires it. The object of this film seems less about being terrifying and more about piecing together the retelling of an actual event, however, this scene stays with the viewer after the film is complete. Moving from the house to the barn and giving a performance that grabs you by the throat, this is my personal favorite exorcism scene of all time, even the movie as a whole is still just below The Exorcist. Pure perfection and excellent acting skills can be found in these few brief moments.