Girls in Horror Movies: The Exorcist

This series of blog posts will focus on how young girls are portrayed in different horror movies. Unlike women, girls have far more variety to their characters within the horror genre. Women are typically portrayed as very pretty airheads that are usually the first to end up dead! This week I’ll be discussing The Exorcist which is a classic of the horror genre! Upon its release in 1973, it became a major success but it was banned in many countries as it contains so many controversial scenes.

The movie itself focuses on the life of 12-year-old girl, Regan. Towards the beginning of the movie, Regan plays with an Ouija board and contacts a demon which she calls “Captain Howdy”. Regan starts out as a typical well-behaved, innocent girl, who then begins to behave out of character after the Ouija board encounter. Her symptoms include a constant use of bad language, strange spasms, and knowing things that she could not possibly know – all very typical symptoms of demon possession! Her mother eventually calls in two local priests to perform an exorcism. A child getting possessed in a horror movie is a very common format. They are typically targeted because they are a pure untainted vessel that is perfect for an evil demon to occupy. Towards the end of the movie, the priest succeeds in convincing the evil demon (Pazuzu) to possess him instead of innocent Regan. After the demon possesses him, the priest plunges to his death in the hopes of killing Pazuzu in the process.

In this movie, some very common horror themes are explored. The most obvious one being that children are innocent and pure, and therefore easy targets for evil demons. In this case, the demon attached itself to Regan through an Ouija board. Ouija boards are a very common topic in horror movies (such as in the horror franchise Ouija) and the rules of an Ouija board are stressed throughout the genre. One of the rules is that you must never play alone – and this is just what little Regan does! She breaks a rule, and she is also the perfect target, so it is not surprising that Pazuzu possesses her. Moreover, a second common theme is that children are to be protected and sheltered by adults – especially their parents. Throughout this movie, Regan’s mother and the two priests fight to get her cured so that she can return to the angelic child that we were shown at the start of the movie.

By the end of the movie, we see Regan back to her former bubbly self. Child possession as a theme shows the strength of children. Regan herself did most of the battle against Pazuzu by consistently fighting the evil demon until her mother and the priests are able to fully get rid of it. So remember, follow Ouija rules and, no matter what, persevere! You’re stronger than you realise! Honourable mentions of the child possession theme include the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the 2012 movie The Possession.

-Lexi Burrows
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.


Pin It on Pinterest