The power of Christ compels you, Drinkers!
That’s right, today’s pairing is Avery Brewing’s The Reverend and the 1973 classic The Exorcist. And let me tell you, coming from this mildly tipsy Jew, this Catholic combo was quite the show! So grab your holy water and hang onto you robes, BAAM is in for a devilishly good time!
The original 1973 version of The Exorcist is one of those films that most people classify under the “you must see this” genre. Actually, I’d say it’s probably one of the few horrors that fall under that esteemed category, alongside the likes of The Shining and The Ring (he said reluctantly). In fact, what all of these “must-see” horror movies have in common is how horror is simply the premise on which great filmmaking is produced. For The Exorcist, the movie isn’t particularly scary and isn’t focused primarily on the gory details of Regan’s possession. Rather, it uses the lens of horror to perform a psychological study on its characters and their demonically-strained relationships. The end result is a film that barely addresses the demonic arts for at least the first 45 minutes of the film and is largely a slow viewing experience. In fact, the pacing is so slow (and the dialogue mixing so…1970’s) that it’s quite difficult to get a grasp of where the movie is headed and how each character ties in. At many times, I found this ambiguity to be quite frustrating. As a modern viewer, I wanted a direct and obvious connection between the events of the first 10 minutes (which feel like something out of Indiana Jones sans action) and the events of the rest of the film. I also wanted clearer explanations of each character and their relationship to one another. Who are all these people living in Chris’ home? Who are all of priests that Father Karras? For the majority of the film, I was feverishly trying to connect the dots between character, place and event. Only until the end did the pieces (sort of) fit together, but not exactly to my complete satisfaction.
What I also found frustrating about this film was its focus and subsequent abandonment on its principal characters. The beginning of the film focuses exclusively on Father Merrin who digs up something scary in Iraq. Then the film shifts its attention to Chris MacNeil in D.C. as she tries to understand what is happening to her daughter Regan. Then about two thirds of the way through the film, it shifts focus once again onto psychologist/Jesuit priest Father Karras who struggles with his mother’s death while also calmly chatting with a demon-child. While the stories are carefully woven together, the end result is one of frustration and confusion, as you’re never really sure to whom you’re supposed to connect. Beyond not wanting Regan to remain possessed, it is hard to care about these characters when we abandon halfway through the film. Briefly, on another note, I found the pace of the editing to be a bit inconsistent. At times, we were left with these uncomfortably long, lingering shows while at other moments, we would abruptly (and sometimes prematurely) smash into other cuts. That’s more of a personal taste thing for me but I wanted to point it out.
But I don’t want you to think that all of this griping means I did not like the film. On the contrary, the more I pick apart a film on a (pseudo) intellectual basis, the more it generally means I liked the film. For one, The Exorcist is expertly shot. Every frame brings the viewer anxiety and heightens the unsettling nature of the subject. Moreover, setting the muddy dialogue mixing aside, the sound effects are quite incredible. All audio that is not expressly human is accentuated and exaggerated. The end result if an eerie mix of every day sounds that make your skin crawl. And super scary demon-child voices. Quite a feat. But really, overall the film is still a classic. It is quite unsettling and an impressive reminder of what the horror genre can achieve when put in the hands of dedicated and adept filmmakers. It’s also fun to see how many times the girl’s mother says “Jesus Christ!” or “Oh God!” throughout the film. Nice little touch there.
And our aptly paired beer from Avery Brewing? I have to say, The Reverend is an interesting beer, to say the least. This quad pours a cloudy, coppery-brown with modest one finger head. The Reverend gives off a strong malty nose but your first sip may surprise you. For sporting a heart 10% ABV, the beer itself does not have a heavy body but is rather a tame mix of roasted caramel malt, molasses and fruit (cherries?). Those with more defined palettes will undoubtedly pick up hints of Belgian yeast and vanilla but I am not a gifted drinker. Suffice it to say that this beer is subtle, complex and is best consumed slowly. My 22 oz. bomber lasted me the two hour duration of the film (disclaimer: I’m a slow drinker) and I still felt the booze just a little when I stood up. Overall, the beer fit the movie quite well. Both are complex and multi-layered but are not above being simply enjoyed at face value. While The Exorcist can get a bit slow or frustrating at times, The Reverend was always there to keep me in good spirits.
And as always keeping drinking, my friends!
-Unclear who’s film this is
-Slow but satisfyingly unsettling