The Exorcism review – frighteningly bad horror remake with Russell Crowe

<span>‘Balls-out nutso’: Russell Crowe in The Exorcism.</span><span>Photograph: Fred Norris/Lightsavior Productions, LLC</span>
‘Balls-out nutso’: Russell Crowe in The Exorcism.Photograph: Fred Norris/Lightsavior Productions, LLC

A washed-up actor (Russell Crowe), who has plenty of experience wrestling with an assortment of personal demons, meets his match when he signs up to star in a remake of a legendary horror movie (we assume that it’s The Exorcist, but it’s not explicitly stated). The pill-popping and booze-swilling turns out to be the least of his problems: the ill-fated film project acts as an occult portal unleashing malign powers that bring a whole new meaning to the term “final cut”.

On paper, it’s a neat idea: a meta, tangential means of tapping into the legacy of a horror classic without the soul-crushing inevitability of a remake, reboot or a cobbled-together sequel. And the idea of a demonically possessed Russell Crowe is frankly terrifying – his boiling-oil rumble of a voice drops an octave or two until it sounds as though it is reverberating from the very bowels of hell. But despite Crowe’s commitment to going balls-out nutso in the role, the film unravels, a casualty of slap-dash plotting, lazy directing and a reliance on tired Catholic horror tropes.

• In UK and Irish cinemas now