Russell Crowe’s The Exorcism Looks Like the Most Self-Referential Horror Film Ever Made

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Russell Crowe’s The Exorcism Looks Like the Most Self-Referential Horror Film Ever Made

To answer the obvious, lead-off question: Yes, this all sounds extremely familiar. Russell Crowe, in a clerical collar, getting ready to battle a demon–we just saw that in last year’s The Pope’s Exorcist, right? A film that turned a tidy profit and already has an announced sequel in development? You’re telling us that there’s another, unrelated possession horror movie starring Crowe, hitting theaters this June? And not only is the answer “yes,” but the full background of The Exorcism is so much odder than just that fact.

For starters, The Exorcism, which just dropped its first trailer today (you can view below), began its development long before The Pope’s Exorcist was even conceived. This movie was announced and shot wayyyy back in the autumn of 2019, before seemingly languishing in development hell through the entirety of the pandemic. It was shot under the title of The Georgetown Project, which probably sounds like a very odd name for a horror film, until you learn where The Exorcism is actually coming from.

This movie, as it turns out, is written and directed by Joshua John Miller, the son of late actor Jason Miller, who of course played the role of Father Damien Karras in 1973’s The Exorcist. Joshua Miller, having grown up hearing stories about the troubled production of The Exorcist–which is set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C.–was inspired to write this film as something seemingly semi-autobiographical, with the Crowe character potentially inspired by his own father, and even bearing the name “Anthony Miller.” But it’s not a film about the making of The Exorcist, but rather a movie where Crowe’s character is an actor making another possession horror film in the vein of The Exorcist, which is directly referenced by name. According to the official synopsis, that film then begins to go off the rails, thanks to potential demonic involvement:

Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe stars as Anthony Miller, a troubled actor who begins to unravel while shooting a supernatural horror film. His estranged daughter, Lee (Ryan Simpkins), wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play. The film also stars Sam Worthington, Chloe Bailey, Adam Goldberg and David Hyde Pierce.

Suffice to say, there are so many layers of references here, from Crowe’s own recent career, to the childhood experiences of Joshua John Miller, that it’s difficult to even wrap your head around the concept of what exactly The Exorcism is trying to be. But hey, it has David Hyde Pierce as a Catholic priest! That’s worth something, right? Miller does have some experience in this field, as well, having written the decidedly meta The Final Girls in 2015. Check out the convoluted trailer for The Exorcism below, which is scheduled to hit theaters on June 7, 2024.

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