PERFORMING ARTS

Night Mother: A Personal and Cultural History of ‘The Exorcist’

Mad Creek Oct. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780814258767. pap. $19.95. FILM
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When The Exorcist premiered in 1973, it sent shockwaves through the United States; nothing like this had ever been seen on screen before. The film was released on the heels of significant changes within the country, including the civil rights and women’s liberation movements. In this book, Williams explores the social and political landscape of the 1970s United States to examine why the film had the impact it did and why it still permeates popular culture to this day. The book provides a masterful and thoroughly researched analysis of the film and includes Williams’s own history growing up Catholic and coping with guilt and grief after her mother’s illness and death. Williams’s personal stories align with her analysis, bringing to light the question: Is The Exorcist’s true horror about demonic possession or about growing up as a woman in the United States?
VERDICT An incredible work of film analysis, examining cultural context and interspersing personal history, that makes a great read for movie, horror, and pop-culture fans. Highly recommended for libraries with media analysis collections. 
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