A little girl becomes possessed by an ancient, evil spirit.
Here is a solid case of the adaptation transcending the source material. As a book, The Exorcist just doesn’t have the same air of menace and terror created by William Friedkin’s movie adaptation. Blatty gives readers passages describing black masses, and doesn’t shy away from the more salacious events during Regan’s possession, but these are just gross-outs. They don’t conjure prickling at the back of my neck, or made me afraid to turn out the lights. I found myself more disgusted than horrified.
I was also expecting a touch more theology in the book, given that the movie hints at deep issues of faith, doubt, and guilt, but there’s nothing in here that goes any deeper than the movie did. In fact, the screenplay for the movie could have been a literal translation of the book, scene for scene and with much of the dialogue intact, because the book isn’t exactly Henry James. It’s very cinematic in the way that it’s written.
I wasn’t crazy about the characters, either, but I think that’s a matter of taste more than anything else. Everyone had a zingy comeback, even the cops and the servants, giving the dialogue a falsely “sparkling” quality that gave the air of hollow glamor. Maybe it has something to do with the gap between the Baby Boomers and Generation X, but these people all seemed so old to me in a way that I never want to be. I found the same thing when I read Susan Howatch’s Glittering Images. I can relate more to Jane Eyre, whose world is alien to me, than I could to Chris MacNeil.
In blog-related news, check out the new links in the sidebar. I’ve added a list of Favorite Authors with links to resources about them, as well as a list of Recommended Author Websites. These are authors whose works I’ve really enjoyed who maintain informative and fun sites and blogs. The Superfast Reader loves loves loves book recommendations, so please feel free to email me at superfastreader gmail com.