Exorcist II: The Heretic
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Film: Exorcist II: The Heretic
Director: John Boorman
Writer: William Goodhart
Starring: Richard Burton, Linda Blair and Louise Fletcher
This film begins with Richard Burton. He is in a Spanish speaking country trying to exorcise a woman who is possessed. The demon within her is too strong and sets herself on fire. Burton has to watch on in horror as she is burned alive.
We then shift to the girl from the previous film, played by Linda Blair. She is now a teenager and is in school. She lives in New York City and is practicing for a show where she will do a tap-dancing number along with others. Afterwards she goes to a doctor, played by Louise Fletcher, who has been helping her since she has come to this city. Her mother is on set doing filming so her former nanny, played by Kitty Winn, lives with her and watches over her.
Burton visits with a cardinal played by Paul Henreid. He wants Burton to look into the death of Father Merrin during the final exorcism he was performing. There are some that are calling him a devil worshipper and they are trying to clear his name.
His first place to go is to New York to try to find Blair. He goes to the doctor’s office that she is being seen by and the two cross paths without even knowing it. He goes into to see Fletcher. Blair waits after leaving the office and asks the assistant to Fletcher, played by Belinda Beatty. Beatty tells her that she isn’t sure, but Blair knows it is about her.
Burton and Fletcher talk and he tells her that he in fact inquiring about Blair. Fletcher is reluctant to help in worries it will make Blair go back to how she was. Blair does interrupt. Fletcher offered to do synchronize hypnosis, but Blair was reluctant to use this method. When she returns she agrees to do it and will allow Burton to watch.
The following session they do. Blair goes under and finds her room in Georgetown. She cannot see the events of the night that Merrin died during though. Fletcher then goes under and helps her while Beatty guides them both. Fletcher starts to have an arrhythmia with her heart and so they try to pull them both out. Blair comes out, but Fletcher doesn’t. Burton then goes under to help her. We then see images from that fateful exorcism in the past. Merrin is played by Max von Sydow again. We see images of when Blair was possessed. The film has Fletcher positioned between them so the possessed Blair and Sydow are fighting over her heart. They are hurting it. Burton saves her by casting out a prayer at the possessed Blair and Fletcher is able to be brought out.
After this episode, Blair sits down with another girl who is a patient of Fletcher and they do a drawing together. She brings the drawing to Burton and it is of him with flames around him. He immediately goes into a panic, knowing there is a fire somewhere in the building. They find it in a maintenance room below them. He finds a crutch and starts to beat the flames with it while Fletcher grabs a fire extinguisher. Before she uses it, she sees that the image is exactly like what Blair had drawn. Everyone was evacuated to ensure that it was safe and Blair agrees to do the synchronized hypnosis with Burton and Fletcher controlling it.
Blair has an incident where she sleepwalks to the edge of her balcony and almost falls off. She wakes up and screams. This brings Winn out to see what is going on and Blair plays it off when she is playing with the doves that nest outside of her door. Winn is skeptical though.
Burton and Blair then go under together during the next session. While they are under they see another time that Sydow battled with the demon that took over Blair. It is still residing in Blair, but no longer strong enough to take over. We see an image of a locust that this demon uses to travel. It is uses it to turn the locusts into a destruction force by getting them riled up by rubbing its wings on them. There is also a possessed boy that Sydow helped as well.
When they come out of this one, Blair tells him that she saw the place they saw in her state. It is at the Natural History museum and the place is in Africa. Burton sees Henreid about going there to help with his investigation. The boy he saw in the vision was played by Joey Green, but at the end there was him as an adult who sent away the demon with a roar, played by James Earl Jones.
Can Burton find him and what key does he play to saving Blair? Burton now has been touched by the demon, how will that affect him? Can he prove that Sydow was a man of God until the end? Can he also save Blair once and for all?
I have to say that despite this being the worst film in the series; this one does have some good aspects to it. I first want to give credit to the filmmakers to not replace characters with other actors. I understand that you want to explore a character farther, but it really bothers me when they recast a role. It is hard for me, because it doesn’t feel like the same person and they are forcing it. I also liked the idea that there are healers in this world that the demon tries to take over and can only possess them. It does this, because of the great influence they have. On the other side, everyone else can be touched, much like the locusts that get riled up by rubbing their wings together, and they are not strong to resist so they do its bidding. I am a big fan of the locusts’ angle, especially with Jones doing research on making a good one as he calls it, which will stop them from being a destructive force, which in this film is Blair draws this parallel.
This film did come with quite a bit of issues though as well. The film has an extremely disjointed feel to it and from what I’ve read; this was due to major re-writes. It appears that the film had a decent screenplay and that is why Blair signed back on. The director had someone do some re-writes though and Blair was already under contract so she couldn’t get out of it. It is surprising that I wasn’t a bigger fan of the acting due to the solid cast they had in this film. Burton was aging by the time this was made, but he was very good in his day. Fletcher is solid normally and so is Sydow. I hate to blame it all on the writing, but I have to wonder if that is why the acting was flat too. I also wasn’t a big fan of the ending. I didn’t like that there was a possessed version of Blair just hanging out in the old room of The Exorcist. If the demon could just manifest itself like this, why wouldn’t it? It needs to suck the life out of different people to survive so this didn’t make sense to me. I also question Fletcher decisions as a mother, it didn’t seem realistic to me that as a divorced woman, she would just give up her time with her children like she does.
Now with that said, I would not recommend seeing this film unless you are interested in seeing all the films in the series. I absolutely love the original film that started this all. I also liked both prequels and the third film in the series is good too. This one though has some good story elements, but the re-writes left us with a disjointed film. The acting was flat despite having a good cast. I also didn’t understand how there could be a doppelganger Blair at the end and that bothered me. This film had potential that was unrealized so I would probably avoid seeing this one unless you want to watch them all.
My Rating: 4 out of 10