The Best Movies Involving Exorcisms, Ranked


Exorcisms have a deep-rooted history not just in films, but in the real world. Even though the Catholic Church’s views on exorcism have changed over the decades, that nevertheless alters the truth of how seriously the church took exorcisms throughout its history. When a fear is so deeply connected to something in the real world, that fear can be a tool for filmmakers when trying to elicit reactions from moviegoers to their films. Let’s take a look at some of the best movies involving exorcisms.

Updated on October 20th, 2023, by Amira Abdel-Fadil: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information.

10 The Cleansing Hour

MiLa Media

The Cleansing Hour is a refreshing and underrated exorcism low-budget film to check out. In this piece of entertainment, things go wrong when a fake exorcism that was intended to only be for live-streaming views turns into something real.

With a real possession taking place, not only is the crew trying to save the actress, but the demon that possessed her is playing dirty games on them and is setting them up against each other. With solid acting and an effective premise, The Cleansing Hour is great fun.

Stream on Amazon Prime Video

9 This is the End (2013)

this is the end

This is the End

Release Date
June 12, 2013

Director
Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Cast
James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson

Rating
R

Genres
Comedy, Action, Fantasy

Exorcisms have been parodied in films for decades, taking something as horrifying as demonic possession and turning it on its head for comedic purposes. 2013’s This is the End, an apocalyptic film starring some of the funniest actors of all time playing themselves, takes the concept of an exorcism, and dials it up to eleven. During the events of the film, Jonah Hill is possessed by a demon one night.

To rid him of his demonic intruder, his friends Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Craig Robinson, attempt an impromptu exorcism. As one can imagine, things do not go according to plan, as during the ritual Hill is set on fire, causing a hilarious chain reaction of events leading to the main characters having to flee their home that is now engulfed in flames. This is the End is a hilarious film using an exorcism in top-tier comedic fashion.

Stream on Netflix

8 The Last Exorcism (2010)

The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism

Release Date
August 27, 2010

Director
Daniel Stamm

Cast
Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones, Tony Bentley

Rating
PG-13

Genres
Drama, Documentary, Horror, Thriller

When a plot involving an exorcism is so broadly used, it is important to find new and interesting ways to tell a story. The Last Exorcism delivers on this by utilizing the found footage approach that helped make such movies like The Blair Witch Project, and Paranormal Activity so successful. The movie tells the story of Reverend Cotton Marcus, a man whose mission is to delegitimize exorcisms, he does so by performing fake rituals on “possessed” individuals.

Cotton’s situation becomes all too real when he is contacted by a farming family claiming their daughter to be possessed. This leads Cotton down a road of twists and turns involving lies, deceit, and occult rituals. The Last Exorcism is not for the faint of heart, and its graphic depictions of demonic possession push the boundaries of what we have seen in exorcism films prior, making it one of the best of the subgenre.

Stream on Tubi

7 The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Release Date
September 9, 2005

Director
Scott Derrickson

Cast
Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter, Colm Feore, Joshua Close

Rating
PG-13

Main Genre
Crime

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is another exorcism tale that uses a unique approach to storytelling and is widely considered to be one of the best religious horror movies of all time. The movie is loosely based on true events and primarily takes place in the aftermath of the exorcism of a 19-year-old girl named Emily Rose, who tragically died during the ritual.

Emily’s tale is told through flashbacks of storytelling by Father Richard Moore, the man being charged with the negligent death of Emily. The movie calls into question the legitimacy of the exorcism performed on Rose by Father Moore. Blending horror and mystery, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a true demonic classic.

Stream on Pluto TV

6 The Medium

Someone sitting in The Medium.
GDH 559 

Set in Thailand, The Medium follows a Shamaness, Nim, who is a local healer and who believes she embodies the spirit of a goddess. She catches the attention of a filming crew. Meanwhile, her family member, Mink, begins showing what Nim believes to be a divine awakening.

Related: 10 Best Folklore Horror Movies From the Last Decade

As a result, Nim comes to believe that Mink will be the new person to embody the goddess that Nim has been hosting. However, Mink starts displaying disturbing behavior which causes Nim and the community to believe that there is something much more alarming at play. Has she become possessed by an evil force? The Medium is creepy with stellar cinematography. Its use of traditions, and cultural and religious folklore add flavor to the engrossing story.

Stream on Shudder

5 The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing

The Wailing

Release Date
June 3, 2016

Director
Na Hong-jin

Cast
Jun Kunimura, Hwang Jung-min

Rating
TV-MA

Genres
Horror, Drama, Mystery

The Wailing is an exorcism tale unlike others on this list, as it takes place in South Korea under different circumstances than some of our other entries that involve a member of the Catholic Church as the exorcist.

The film tells the story of a policeman working to solve a string of mysterious murders said to be perpetrated by a ghost or demon. What makes The Wailing such an interesting and acclaimed movie is its perfect spin of Korean folklore onto the exorcism genre.

Stream on Tubi

4 The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring

The Conjuring

Release Date
March 20, 2013

Director
James Wan

Cast
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland

Rating
R

Main Genre
Horror

The horror genre saw a resurgence starting in the 2010s and a big contributor to that was James Wan’s The Conjuring. The movie tells the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators, who come to the aid of the Perron family who have begun experiencing disturbing goings-on in their newly purchased farmhouse.

The mother of the family, Carolyn Perron, is possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba Sherman, a witch who sacrificed her child to the devil himself in 1863 before taking her own life. Carolyn is ultimately freed from her possession by Ed Warren and Bathsheba is cast out. The Conjuring found great success upon its release and has spawned countless sequels and spin-offs, creating a Conjuring Universe.

Stream on Max

3 The Rite

The Rite

The Rite

Release Date
January 28, 2011

Director
Mikael Håfström

Cast
Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer

Rating
PG-13

Genres
Drama, Documentary, Horror, Thriller

There can’t be a list of the best exorcism films without mentioning The Rite. In this interesting story about faith, a supposedly Christian man, Micheal (Colin O’Donaghue) grows skeptical towards religion and especially exorcism rituals. As his faith gets more and more shaken, he is encouraged by those around him to take an exorcism course in Italy and witness things for himself.

It is only until he witnesses the course of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) that he begins to witness stronger and stronger evidence that demonic possessions might be true after all. With a girl becoming in dire need of both Trevant and Micheal’s help, Micheal has to decide if he is willing to help in a non-conventional way. Swedish director Mikael Håfström attended exorcisms as part of his research. Although he wasn’t allowed to see them, he was allowed to hear them from behind the door.

Rent on Amazon Prime Video

2 Constantine

constantine

Constantine

Release Date
February 8, 2005

Director
Francis Lawrence

Cast
Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince

Rating
R

Genres
Fantasy, Documentary, Horror

Constantine is where fantasy meets horror. In this bone-chilling tale, John Constantine is a demon hunter who gets to solve a mysterious case. When a devout catholic woman dies by suicide, her sister refuses to believe that this is the case.

With the help of Constantine, they begin to unravel a darker truth behind her death. Meanwhile, Constantine has a past that burdens him, and this new reality that unfolds in front of his eyes becomes haunting. The captivating film has a gloomy atmosphere, and it has the right touch of visual effects to complement it. Keanu Reeves also plays the perfect modern-day exorcist.

Stream on Amazon Prime Video

1 The Exorcist (1973)

the exorcist

The Exorcist

Release Date
December 26, 1973

Director
William Friedkin

Cast
Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb

Rating
R

Genres
Horror

Here it is, the Grandfather of all the exorcism films that followed it. It is hard to explain what a stir The Exorcist caused when it was released in 1973. Before it had even screened in a single movie theater, the film was garnering attention both good and bad and even had one of its trailers banned.

The Exorcist is still the gold standard when it comes to exorcism films and is widely considered to still be the scariest horror movie ever made. It inspired a number of sequels and even a modern continuation, though none of them managed to capture the horror of the original.

Stream on Max



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