The Devil Made Them Do It: Horror’s Best Possession/Exorcism Scenes

Demonic Possession is the driving force in the sub-genre of possession movies and the performance of the actors in the possession/exorcism scenes can make the movie, regardless of how lame the storyline is or they can break the movie regardless of how good the story is. Portraying the part of the victim of a possession is no easy task, as the actor is basically playing two parts – the victim unpossessed and the body with the demonic entity in control.

Here are my top possession and/or exorcism scenes from Horror’s Possession Films sub-genre.

  1. Regan/The Exorcist (1973) played by Linda Blair. This film was cutting edge for its time and pushed the limits of what could be done and gotten away with in a film. Blair played this part perfectly and this movie remains one of the scariest of all time.
  2. Lane/The Cleansing Hour (2017) played by Alix Angelis. Playing the part of a possessed girl facing a fake priest in what was supposed to be a staged exorcism for a internet show, Angelis played the dual role to perfection. Her body movements as the possessed were flawless and based on what she was doing with her body, the audience was able to deduce whether it was Lane or the demon in control. Perfect performance that rivals Linda Blair’s performance in The Exorcist.
  3. Emily Rose/The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) played by Jennifer Carpenter. The passion that went into the performance from Carpenter was intense and many feel that that it is actually at the top of this list. I will agree it is a rival for the top spot but I like it behind Blair and Angelis.
  4. Mick/Deliver Us From Evil (2014) played by Sean Harris. This was a scary scene and the body transformation was creepy as hell. I have to say that special effects and the voice of the demon lent to the terror in this one, but Harris played a very good part.
  5. Rosanna/The Rite (2011) played by Maria Gastini. The one thing these top performances have in common is the unnatural body movement and posturing and Gastini did an amazing job playing the part of a pregnant victim. It didn’t hurt to have Anthony Hopkins playing the part of a grizzled, seasoned exorcist.
  6. Carolyn Perron/The Conjuring (2013) played by Lily Taylor. Taylor is a seasoned actress and her portrayal of a possessed mother in the “based on true story” film was incredible. The special effects and intensity of this season made it one of the best. Again, co-stars helped tremendously with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga playing Ed and Lorraine Warren.
  7. Em/The Possession (2012) played by Natasha Calis. The challenge of a child actress playing these roles is real but Calis was superb in this performance and the scene at the hospital at the end of the movie is thought of as one of the best exorcism scenes in horror.
  8. Gabriel/The Exorcist series (2016) played by Isaac Linares. Another child performer who nails the part. Again, body movements and posture along with the special effects were incredible in this exorcism scene where the victim actually succumbs to the possession and dies.
  9. Anna-Helen/Possession (1981) played by Isabelle Adjani. This is considered one of the best scenes in horror, with a violent struggle between the host victim and the demon. Excellent performance.
  10. Hannah Grace/Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) played by Kirby Johnson. While not your typical possession movie, this performance by Kirby Johnson in the exorcism scene where Hannah Grace dies during the exorcism is creepy as hell. Special effects with the body contortions and the make up, along with Johnson’s facial expressions and mannerisms while under the power of the demon fighting off the ritual were amazing.

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