mikemccahill’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of those once-in-a-generation films where, by accident or design, a brattish creative (Friedkin was only in his late thirties) embraces the entire range of human experience, and in so doing makes a film that hits differently each time you see it. Newcomers drawn here in search of sleepover thrills and spills will continue to be thrown by the fact we get forty minutes of dinner parties and MRI scans before the truly weird shit goes down, and that it's ninety minutes before we arrive at the image on the poster. (At the turn of the millennium, there emerged an alternate cut subtitled "The Version You've Never Seen"; there should probably also be "The Exorcist - The Version You *Think* You're Going To See".) New parents will doubtless share Chris's fears for her daughter Regan, though they may also be getting early inklings of what Karras is going through in his domestic life, and may wish their parents were still as upright as Max von Sydow's Father Merrin. Amid all the decay and despoilment the film describes, you spy a crisis that is arguably more existential than spiritual: how hard it is to retain one's faith in the world, let alone gods of any kind. Subsequent shockers would take sharp knives to this philosophical framework, the better to get to the blood and thunder, but its presence here gives the lie to the notion this director was solely concerned with bashing his audience around the head... Long before the bit with the crucifix and the help me lesions, these characters are buffeted by fate, which is why "The Exorcist" exists as both horror movie and something more besides. All human life is here, however disconcerting, sickening or hammering some of that might be - and only a filmmaker who really badly wanted it all could have caught so much of it on camera.