8. The Exorcist
directed by William Friedkin
The Exorcist is that rarity seemingly made just for movies – a pulp horror film with depth. Couched in the battle between God and the Devil, with an old priest and an unleashed horror as stand ins, this fight over the soul and body of a young, unsuspecting child is absolutely riveting and completely terrifying. The Exorcist is a movie about the horror of belief – the thought that there are unseen, unknowable powers that can and do strip you of your agency, playing war with your tattered body in a fight as old as time. Unlike every other exorcism movie out there, existing for cheap thrills and a catalogue of body contortion, this film is about addressing this belief system as reality, undeniable and often malevolent, and asking what, exactly, is the worth of the creatures these powers play with? If He exists, is it possible God can love us, despite the horrors of existence, of human, and superhuman, depravity? A pulp horror that places the beliefs of billions in extremis, The Exorcist is a searing, horrifying examination of belief and the place of humanity in the cosmos.