0:00 Introduction screen, video title “The Power of Possession” appears in white text on a black background.
0:10 A scene from The Exorcist is shown. A young girl levitates above a bed while two men stand at the foot, yelling and waving their arms.
Sound: [Men’s voices yelling, “The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!”]
0:17 Close up on the men’s faces.
Sound: Voice over: If you’ve seen any exorcism movie, you basically know the story. If you haven’t, it goes a little something like this.
0:20 Several scenes from The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, Rosemary’s Baby, and other movies are shown. A young girl is shown lying in bed, smiling, while an adult figure above her touches her face. A young girl lies on some hay, head lolling back and blood on her white shirt, and the girl’s head turns unnaturally to the left. A girl’s feet and the bottom of a white dress-style nightgown are shown with water or urine dripping down onto a rug. A girl lies on an operating table receiving a shot into her neck while her head is held still by a pair of hands. A girl wrapped in a blanket is shown from behind approaching a hospital desk guided by another woman.
Sound: Voice Over continues: A young girl begins exhibiting unusual behavior and physical ailments. [urinating sound] After a series of medical evaluations, doctors conclude that the girl is not physically sick, but mentally ill.
0:30 Several scenes from The Exorcist and other movies are shown. A girl faces the camera lens with a confused facial expression, blinking. A girl rises quickly from a bed, propelled by an unnatural force, her head and body whipping back and forth. A girl crouches and shuffles sideways while holding a knife and leering through her long brown hair. A girl in a knee-length white nightgown is escorted by three adult males, and they lean in close to her face. Brief, hardly identifiable images of fast-moving hands and other body parts are shown. A girl opens her eyes and faces the camera, her face bruised and her eyes watery. A brief image of men and others retreating is shown.
Sound: Voice Over continues: The girl becomes bedridden and for some reason only wears nightgowns. Her symptoms are getting worse, and the little lady will do things that will shock you.
0:40 Several scenes from The Exorcist and other movies are shown. A girl sits on the bed in a nightgown, bloodied and holding a knife, and her face turns backwards on her neck to face the camera. An adult woman cowers away from the young girl, her face bloody. A closeup of the girl’s bloody face is shown, speaking. A cross mounted on a wall is illuminated by lightning flashes, interspersed with a girl’s face. The cross falls from the wall. A woman wearing a scarf and sunglasses is shown speaking to a man. A girl’s feet are shown wearing brown boots, and she is lying on a bed with a chain wrapped around her ankle. A bright and distant light on a black background is shown. Another close up of a bruised female face is shown. A man is shown from below, speaking harshly. A man is hit with green vomit in the face. A girl is shown growling and vomiting. The man wipes his eyes. A young girl wearing a blue, red, and white winter cap is shown, face lightly scarred. She hugs and kisses the cheek of an adult in front of her. Screen fades to black.
Sound: Voice Over continues: Finally, with no where else to turn, her parents, or parent, will admit that it could be demonic possession and find a priest. The girl will be bound to her bed, and the priest will begin the exorcism. It will get messy. [slime sound] But ultimately, the demon is expelled, and she’s back to her normal life in no time.
1:04 Several scenes from The Exorcist and other movies are shown. A young girl hides behind a wall, listening to an adult in another room. Two girls jump together in a playroom. Close ups of two girl’s faces are shown separately, then the screen splits into three panels and freezes on three girls shown in the previous scenes, all young, white, and thin. An adult woman is shown pointing to a poster of the female reproductive system while a young red-haired girl looks on, stone-faced.
Sound: Voice Over continues: The victims of exorcism films are always pure, innocent, and virginal. They are also always in between the ages of 11 and 18, early adolescence, the age when a young girl’s body begins to sexually mature.
1:21 Several scenes from The Exorcist are shown. A young girl, Regan, is shown lying in bed, smiling, while an adult figure above her touches her face. Regan enters a room and greets an adult woman, kissing her on the cheek. Regan and the woman walk arm in arm through a room. A wrist and hand bound with cloth strips is shown; the hand flexes and the strips rip. Regan is shown lying on a bed, possessed, with bloodied face, mouth open, and eyes rolled into the back of her head.
Sound: Voice Over continues: Think of Regan in the Exorcist. Regan is an angelic and innocent 12-year-old girl, who we can see is in the early stages of puberty, you know, the awkward pre-teen stage. [What did you do today?] When possession by the demon Pazuzu takes place, Regan’s physical appearance transforms, and not in the way it’s supposed to at her age.
1:40 Several scenes from Carrie are shown. Carrie’s foot and leg is shown in the shower, water cascading down while a bar of soap is dropped. The camera shows Carrie’s legs and upper thighs from a side view, blood and water running down one leg as Carrie’s hand touches the blood. Carrie’s face in the shower is shown, and she looks down to her legs. Blood and water running down Carrie’s leg as her hand touches the blood is again shown. Carrie is shown outdoors looking to the side as a child crashes his bike in a park, she then looks down on the child. A close up of Carrie’s eyes is shown from the shower scene, and she has drops of water on her face. A close up of Carrie’s hand in the shower is shown, opening and shaking. Carrie’s body, naked and bloody, is shown in a gymnasium as fire burns around her. The screen fades to black.
Sound: Voice Over continues: This trope exists outside of typical exorcism films. Take the 1976 film Carrie. The opening scene shows Carrie getting her period for the first time. Shortly after, she acquires powerful supernatural abilities; i.e., Carrie’s body reaches sexual maturity, and she becomes a dangerous force. [screaming, fire crackling]
2:01 Several scenes from The Exorcist, The Last Exorcism, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and other movies are shown. Regan’s face is shown speaking with a raspy voice. Regan, wrapped in a blue sheet, writhes sexually on a bed, cursing, while four adults look on, horrified. A young girl from The Last Exorcism is shown sitting on some hay on a barn floor speaking to an adult man, who looks at her with a concerned look. Wind blows through an open window. A woman covers her mouth with her hands, a look of terror on her face. Regan’s torso and face are shown as she stabs herself with a cross, cursing. The woman looks on horrified, tries to wrestle the cross away from Regan, and is grabbed by Regan. A girl unbuttons her white nightgown, and another girl helps her undress. A young girl yells at a an adult man in German. Two girls are shown embracing on a bed. A young girl in a bloodied white nightgown, cries out “no!” while an adult man looks on, crying. A young girl is shown sobbing.
Sound: [The power is mine! Fuck me! Fuck me!]
Sound: Voice Over continues: Sexualizing the body of a young girl is an important shock factor in these movies. [Reverend, how about a blowing job?] Some of the most unsettling sequences involve sexual acts being performed by the innocent girl. [Fuck you! Fuck you! Stabbing and mom crying.] Audiences continue to be disturbed by images of adolescent girls exhibiting signs of sexuality because it carries a deeply rooted anxiety. [speaking in German] As an adolescent girl goes through puberty, she begins to confront sexuality. [Violins screeching] Is there anything scarier than your sweet little girl reaching womanhood? [Screaming. She is an innocent!]
2:52 Several scenes from Carrie, The Exorcist, The Last Exorcism, and other movies are shown interspersed. A young girl is shown sobbing. She is shown head down and eyes closed while a man stands above her with an open book. A priest stands at the front of a church in a white and red robe, hands open. A close up of Carrie’s eyes is shown from the shower scene, and she has drops of water on her face. A close up of Carrie’s hand in the shower is shown, opening and shaking. A young girl writhes as she is thrown against a bed. Regan’s torso and face are shown as she stabs herself with a cross. Several scenes of young girls from various movies are shown in white nightgowns, writhing on beds, feet in chains, men surrounding the bed with open books. A scene from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is shown where a man approaches a woman tied face down on a bed. The woman struggles against her constraints. Screen fades to black.
Sound: Voice Over continues: So once the girls appears to be at the age of childbearing, she’s subsequently deemed to be possessed, and her only hope is to have a priest perform an exorcism. Think of it this way: a girl reaches sexual maturity, and a demon takes her body by force, makes her do heinous and disturbing things, and the only way she can be saved is in a nightgown, in her room, chained to her bed, while two grown men physically and verbally assault her. Does that remind you of anything? [Violins playing, yelling and growling, scene from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]
3:30 Several scenes from Carrie, The Exorcist, The Last Exorcism, and other movies are shown interspersed. A girl’s feet are tied as she lays in a bed and struggles. A close up of a girl’s face and a demon’s face is shown. A priest in formal Catholic garb is shown. Blood is smeared on a body. A man’s face is shown, yelling. A young girl writhes on a bed. A young girl is shown kneeling with an open book held above her, and “The Sins of Women” is typed on the page. A printed page is shown, and it reads “Question VI: Concerning Witches who Copulate with Devils. Why it is that Women are chiefly addicted to Evil Superstitions.” An adult woman holds a book and speaks to the kneeling girl. A medieval drawing is shown of a woman tied to a stake in flames while a man stands to the side, hand raised. A medieval sculpture is shown with Jesus and angels. Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” is shown. “Sex (Male)” is typed on the screen in white. A priest stands at the front of a church in a white and red robe, hands open. “Status (clerical)” is typed on the screen in white. A cross is shown on a wall. “Power (divine) is typed on the screen in white. Men are shown in a dark room performing an exorcism, chanting.
Sound: Voice Over continues: [Choral chanting begins] These reoccurring images in exorcism movies are illustrating that demons are more powerful than women, men are more powerful than women, and both parties are in control of her body. [It is he who commands you!] And this is not a recent idea. The female body as a site for demonic possession appears in many texts throughout history. In her book, Exorcising Demonic Disorder, Nancy Caciola explains that medieval exorcisms purposefully chose women as victims to theatrically display the Catholic hierarchy of power in action. Nancy Caciola wrote, exorcisms “were advancing particular claims of priority. For his sex (male), his status (clerical), and his power source (divine). At the same time, the exorcism is designed to emphasize the salutary subordination of the female.”
4:28 Several scenes from Carrie, The Exorcist, The Last Exorcism, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and other movies are shown interspersed. A girl kneels in a white nightgown. A happy family photo is shown. And adult woman in a scarf sobs on a man’s shoulder. A young girl writhes and yells in a dark room, facing a man. A medieval sculpture is shown with Jesus and angels. A young girl in a white nightgown crawls backwards down a staircase, and blood runs out of her mouth as she growls and yells. A young girl writhes and yells in a dark room, facing a man. A young girl lies on some hay, head lolling back and blood on her white shirt, and the girl’s head turns unnaturally to the left. A young girl’s hands clutch at her chest and nightgown. A young girl is shown smiling, then yelling in the wind and darkness. A priest stands at the front of a church in a white and red robe, hands open. A close up of a bloodied face with wild green eyes is shown in the darkness. Men are shown in a dark room performing an exorcism, chanting, as a girl’s body lowers onto a bed. The screen fades to black. Credits roll in white text on a black background.
Sound: Voice Over continues: The nature of exorcism rituals perpetuates age old ideas regarding Gender roles and sexuality. So these medieval were meant to remind people that if this gendered power structure was disrupted, terrible things would happen. [Choral music continues, Screaming.] To this very day, the exorcism film genre continues to use the same formulas to visually compare good to evil, holy to unholy, and men to women [men’s voices; choral music concludes with trumpets and voices, applause].