The Devil in our Lives –
A Countdown of Possession Movies
WHEN THE Exorcist was first released in 1973, audiences around the world were both shocked and fearful at this new breed of horror. Exorcism was a well known religious ritual across the world, taking various guises and forms in different belief systems, but there were very few references to the dark and creepy ritual in film – until then. Directed by William Freidken, the film became a horror classic and stories of audience members fainting and being physically sick during watching the film only added to the legend of The Exorcist. Since then, however, the devil has visited our cinema and TV screens many times. The themes of the devil, of possession and exorcism are now widespread in our horror entertainment. Some films are similar to The Exorcist – others take a very sharp departure from that style. I’m a big fan of this theme in horror, and so I thought it’d be fun to compile a list of the best devil movies – some well known, others not so much. Take a look, and if I’ve missed any that you think worth mentioning, please drop me a comment. I’d love to know about any I have not come across.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Starring Jennifer Carpenter, this 2005 horror movie changed the direction of the demonic possession genre. Yes, there were plenty of jump scares, creepy scenes and frightening moments, but more than that, this film was also a courtroom drama. The contrast between the courtoom scenes and the possession scenes are stark and really keep the viewer tense throughout the story. Said to be based on the real life case of Annaliese Michel, this film has enough atmosphere and scares to please the most ardent of horror movie fans.
The Last Exorcism
Directed by Eli Roth and released in 2010, The Last Exorcism is a supernatural found-footage horror film about the demonic possession of a young, religious teenager. If you’re not really a fan of the found-footage genre, this might not be your thing. However, because it is filmed as an “on location” documentary for the most part, it doesn’t suffer too much from the jerky, jittery filming that comes often with others such as The Blair Witch (not until later in the movie, anyway!) I really enjoyed this film, I think the cast were strong, the atmosphere was very unnerving – and the ending was very twisted. If you haven’t already given it a go, I recommend The Last Exorcism (and its sequel – part two).
I deliberated for a moment about whether to include this film in the list. It isn’t an actual possession film, however it most definitely focuses on the themes of the devil and his influence on the world. Based on the book by Ira Levin, this epic and classic horror movie was released in 1968 and was directed by Roman Polanski. The story focuses on a young woman, a mother-to-be, who notices some very dark and disturbing events in the block of apartments in which she recently moved into. This film is a classic for a reason – the script, the acting, the sinister music and the dark storyline really work well. I highly recommend this one.
The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund
This film, released in 2015 and directed by Andrew Jones, is one of the most recent releases of the demonic possession genre. Said to be based on a real life case of possession, this film feels sinister to the audience because it has an air of authenticity behind it. Starring Lee Bane and Tiffany Cerri, this film is creepy and expertly delivers the tale of a young girl’s spiritual battle with the devil himself. The acting is strong, the atmosphere tense. I really enjoyed this offering to the genre.
The Devil’s Child
The Devil’s Child – AKA as Joshua – was released in 1997 and it is a perfect specimen in horror film. Based on an affluent American family, who increasingly become disturbed by the behaviour of their once angelic son, this film has creepiness in buckets. It is sad, twisted, dramatic and scary. This film in itself isn’t specifically a possession movie, either, but you’ll have to forgive me for adding it, because it is a notable and worthy film. It does explore the nature of evil – is this child possessed by some dark force? Or is he simply a product of his environment? You decide.
This 1976 horror flick most definitely is all about the devil – in the shape of a seemingly innocent child. You’ve probably seen this classic, if not, where have you been? It’s up there with The Exorcist in terms of how good it really is. Starring Gregory Peck and directed by Richard Donnor, The Omen is a horror film without flaw, in my opinion. A rich and respected family adopt a child – but who is he really? Death and destruction follow this boy and lead to one terrifying conclusion: he is from the devil himself.
There you have it. My list of favourite devilish movies. I haven’t noted The Exorcist, because I didn’t think it was necessary – but it definitely is up there as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
Don’t forget, new TV series The Exorcist has also recently started screening here in the UK.
If you like your entertainment dark, check out the above titles. Happy viewing!
Thanks for reading. Let me know if I missed any horror greats!