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The Exorcist (50th Anniversary Edition) (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A malevolent entity possesses a young girl causing her mother to seek the help of two exorcists when all medical options fail.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

William Friedkin‘s 1973 horror film had a far-reaching impact on the genre and the industry that can still be seen today. Based on the bestselling novel by William Peter Blatty, who wrote the screenplay himself, Friedkin’s The Exorcist is a classic tale of good versus evil and questioning of one’s own faith.

Linda Blair plays Regan, a young girl who begins displaying odd behavior and is suspected as being under demonic possession. Her mother, Chris, played by Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) turns to doctors at first. They diagnose her as having a neurological disorder, but soon she begins to suspect demonic possession and calls on the aid of a young Jesuit priest, Father Karas (Jason Miller). Father Karas, in midst of a crisis of faith himself, is at first hesitant to call it possession, but he too becomes convinced and turns to the choice of the rites of exorcism. A mysterious older Jesuit priest is called in to do the exorcism, Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow). That is when one of the most powerful battles of good versus evil ever captured on screen ensues.

Platty’s story itself was taken from true stories of an actual exorcism that took place on young boy in 1949. Part of the film’s attraction and horror exists in this realism — these are real people, with normal lives, not monsters or aliens like your average horror film or fantasy film. It is a story that forces one to look inside oneself, question the world, and question faith.

One also cannot discount the special effects of The Exorcist when it comes to the film laying claim to the title “the scariest film of all time.” By 1973 standards, the visual effects were downright innovative. The site of Linda Blair’s head spinning all the way around, or her eyes turning white while she levitated had to be absolutely spellbinding and bone chilling, because it is still frightening even in today’s CGI world. The sound effects also play a huge role in the film’s effectiveness, and that atmosphere has been given an upgrade and made even more eerie on this release, particularly in the new Dolby Atmos mix.

  • Linda Blair in The Exorcist (1973)
  • Ellen Burstyn and Jason Miller in The Exorcist (1973)
  • Linda Blair and Max von Sydow in The Exorcist (1973)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • The Exorcist 50th Anniversary 4K (Warner Bros.)

The Video

With this 4K Ultra HD release from Warner Bros., The Exorcist is still one of their best-looking catalogue home video releases. The graininess remains, and it looks more refined, crisper, and resolves even more detail than before. The HDR10 grading results in superb, nuanced shadow details with inky blacks that do not crush as they did ever so slightly on the Blu-ray, but also have wide contrast in dark scenes with bright whites, and flames that ‘pop’ with three-dimensionality. Specular highlights are bright and there are more gradations of color.

The Audio

Warner Bros. has remixed The Exorcist in lossless Dolby Atmos for this 4K Ultra HD release. Their previous Blu-ray release had a reference quality lossless 6.1 mix and this elevates that. We get a wide soundfield, hyper-clarity of all the eerie atmospherics placed in the surrounds and overhead channels, and wide dynamic range. Speaking as a New Yorker, the early scenes with Father Karras in the subway sound completely authentic to the aural experience of the cavernous roar of the train pulling through the station. We also get moments with the ‘voice of God’ effect as Regan screams from upstairs, or a well-placed phone ring off to the side that will get your heart racing. The original mono mix is also included for the Theatrical Edition in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. It holds up very well considering the limitations of the format.

The Supplements

Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has not included any new bonus features for this release, and they have not even at least included the previously issued bonus features on a separate Blu-ray. Those are accessible via the digital version, however, which can be obtained with the free Movies Anywhere Digital Code that is provided.

  • Introduction by William Friedkin (1080p; 00:02:11)
  • Commentary by William Friedkin
  • Commentary by William Peter Blatty with Special Sound Effects

The Final Assessment

The Exorcist still stands as one of the great horror films of all time – scary, just a little campy, and marvelously atmospheric thanks to William Friedkin’s direction. This 50th Anniversary edition on 4K does not add any new bonus features, but the main even here are the new 4K HDR restorations and awesome Atmos mix. Highly recommended.


The Exorcist (50th Anniversary Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD September 19, 2023, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


  • Rating Certificate: R (for strong language and disturbing images)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | Hoya Productions | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Director: William Friedkin
  • Written By: William Peter Blatty
  • Run Time: 122 Mins. (Theatrical) | 132 Mins. (Extended Director’s Cut)
  • Street Date: 19 September 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 999 nits
    • MaxFALL: 155 nits (Theatrical)
    • MaxFALL: 153 nits (Extended)
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: Original Mono English DTS-HD 2.0 (Theatrical) | French DD 1.0 | German DD 1.0 | Italian DD 1.0 | Spanish (Castilian) DD 1.0 | Spanish (Latino) DD 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | German SDH | Italian SDH | Spanish (Castilian) Spanish (Latino) | Dutch | Chinese | Korean
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A malevolent entity possesses a young girl causing her mother to seek the help of two exorcists when all medical options fail.The Exorcist (50th Anniversary Edition) (4K UHD Review)