What is the scariest movie of all time? If you answered “The Exorcist”, then few could argue with you. The Exorcist, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty and released in 1973, still sends chills down the backs of viewers decades later. The movie opens with the Adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, in the country of Iraq. Modern day Iraq is located in the same area as ancient Mesopotamia – the same territory of the Sumerian false gods, the anunnaki. Here, Father Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, is at an archaeological dig and here a small statue of the demon Pazuzu is uncovered. In this moment, the dark spirit connected with the statue is unleashed and the demon takes Father Merrin as an avowed enemy. Here also is the juxtaposition of the spiritual warfare between light and dark – the forces of good and evil – in these two figures, Father Merrin and Pazuzu. This struggle is also represented in the scene of two dogs fighting as Father Merrin is walking on a cliff.
Next, we are taken to Georgetown and meet an actress mother, Chris MacNeil, played by Ellen Burstyn and her young daughter, Regan MacNeil, played by Linda Blair. Regan discovers a Ouija Board and starts playing the game with her invisible friend, Captain Howdy – who is really the demon Pazuzu. Regan’s encounters with Captain Howdy lead up to demonic possession and strange behavior that worries her mother. Regan begins to exhibit signs of possession, or demonic possession symptoms.
Some of the signs of demonic possession are :
- loss of self-control (Regan urinates on the rug at her mother’s party in front of a group of guests),
- conflicts with authority figures,
- violent behavior,
- uncontrolled swearing,
- wielding of intense power,
- the presence of multiple personalities and/or strange voices, speaking in a foreign language not known by the victim.
After Regan’s mother exhausts all the help and advice of medical professionals, she turns to religious help. She seeks a priest by the name Father Damien Karras, played by Jason Miller. Father Karras is battling his own internal spiritual battle, which provides fuel for the fire in his encounters with the demon possessing Regan. Father Karras seeks the help of Father Merrin, as Father Merrin has had previous experience with exorcisms, especially one in Africa involving Pazuzu. It is as though Pazuzu is seeking confrontation with Father Merrin again after the encounter in Iraq and Africa.
The exorcism story of Regan up to this point reveals many lessons for the viewer. The statue, representing the demon Pazuzu, is dug up in Iraq, or ancient Mesopotamia – the area of ancient false gods, or annunaki. The jinn, ordjinn, are races of beings that can be of the dark or the light. The jinn who have chosen the dark side can also be named as the devil, demons, false gods – the annunaki. The idols worshipped in some religions and in paganism can in fact be inhabited by a jinn (genie in the lamp) and falsely worshipped. Since the jinn have supernatural abilities and powers, man can be deceived into thinking the jinn is a god. This is one form of demonic manipulation. Also, there are hadith from Prophet Muhammad that the jinn can be shapeshifters and take the form of some animals, particularly black dogs. The scene of the dogs fighting in the beginning of The Exorcist depict this presence of the jinn in the form of dogs.
The demon possesses Regan, a young girl, who started playing with the Ouija Board. Games like the Ouija Board may seem harmless, but as jinn are real entities, it is a form of communication with interdimensional beings. The demon Pazuzu deceives Regan into thinking that he is her friend, but he in fact wishes her harm and goes as far a physically possessing Regan’s body. The evil amongst the jinn also like filth, shown in the urination of Regan in front of everyone.
What can be done then, to combat the manipulation and deception of malevolent jinn? Some methods of protection are to not have statues or idols in the house, as well as not to communicate with the evil amongst the jinn by way of Ouija Board, fortune tellers, witches, or magicians. Another method of protection is not to have dogs in the house, as angels do not enter a house with dogs.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal).” (Sahih Bukhari) We can also be protected by keeping physically clean from filth by washing ourselves with water after using the bathroom. Saying the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, like in the beginning of The Exorcist, is another mean of protection, as well as reciting the Quran.
Why does the horror movie The Exorcist provoke such fear in viewers? Because it is true – demons can possess humans, so we must learn the means to protect ourselves.