CURSED FILMS Proves That Evil Lives Among Us

CURSED FILMS Proves That Evil Lives Among Us

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on April 06th, 2020 | Horror News |

Shudder’s five-part documentary series Cursed Films was set to premiere at SXSW last month, but since all major events were canceled in the month of March, the release moved to digital on the Shudder app, and I was able to watch the first episode from the safety of my own home. I went in expecting an in-depth depiction of the specific rumors that surrounded the notorious films set to be featured, but writer/director Jay Cheel set out to prove that the real stories behind our favorite horror films are terrifying in a different way entirely.

The series starts off with a bang as it analyzes The Exorcist, a film that we all know has, since its days filming in 1972, had a reputation of a plagued set and cast. The set caught fire, and most of it was consumed, save for Regan’s room. Several people who worked on the film passed away. A Jesuit priest was brought in to bless the set, further fanning the flame, so to speak. Unfortunately these rumors were merely mentioned, and connections to any “curse” are barely addressed.

But what we didn’t hear was happening behind the scenes was actually more chilling than any rumor. William Friedkin utilized unorthodox and unusually cruel methods to elicit genuine reactions - sometimes terrified, sometimes pained - in the name of his filmmaking. Superfans of Friedkin take note: this is a “don’t meet your heroes” situation. 

Through interviews with journalists, religious experts, and Linda Blair herself, and from video footage and newspaper clippings from the 70s, we see how controversy surrounding The Exorcist became a public relations dream. The hype became its own entity, driving the masses to see a film that was “so terrifying it was making people pass out”. Some people did actually pass out - but was it a legitimate reaction, or was the mere suggestion that that was what was supposed to happen making vulnerable people more susceptible to live up to the notoriety? Cheel briefly explores how these visceral reactions are rooted in our own experiences, and how the Hollywood money machine preyed off of simple psychology to translate fear into dollars, eventually becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Viewers will witness three people currently struggling with inner demons go through actual exorcisms performed, for a price, by a priest. It was a sad and terrifying experience, but even today, it seems likely that their reactions - and their belief in its ability to work - are shaped subliminally by their reference point in film. 

Worth Watching? 

Yes. As lovers of the horror genre, we often find ourselves caught up in the rumors because it lends itself to a scarier and more entertaining viewing experience, and I found myself wanting more of that. But even without much discussion of the so-called “cursed” aspects, the series discusses some very interesting behind-the-scenes facts from, arguably, one of the scariest horror movies of all time. When you peek behind the curtain, sometimes the truth is much more evil than any supernatural connection could ever be.

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