What’s the point of a new Exorcist movie in 2023, 50 years after the original? For the studio, the answer is easy: It’s a well-known brand that can be reinvigorated like Halloween has been in recent years. For David Gordon Green, the director responsible for both the Halloween revival and The Exorcist: Believer, the answer isn’t so obvious—at least not from watching the film.
On paper, this new Exorcist sequel Must Interestingly, the film was written by Greene’s Halloween trilogy collaborator Danny McBride, star and creator of HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones, of which Greene directed nine episodes. These are the people you’d think would have something to say about it. But while The Righteous Gemstones denigrates evangelical Christian culture at every opportunity, The Believer has nothing but respect for all religious institutions. It’s a little confusing to say the least.
The Exorcist: Believer focuses on Victor (played with almost mesmerizing Leslie Odom Jr.) and his daughter Angela (Lydia Jutt)—Angela’s mother died in tragic circumstances after being severely injured in an earthquake in Haiti after giving birth. His birth continues with Angela. So Angela picks up her mother’s old earrings, and she and her friend Catherine head into the woods to try some kind of sex. It’s actually not that serious – the two laugh to themselves as Angela tries to talk into the earring.
But then they disappear into thin air for three days, before turning up without explanation at a warehouse 30 miles away. And they’re different now—Angela and Catherine are quiet and abrupt at first, and then gradually morph into the haunted horrors we knew they would become.
When psychiatric treatments fail, Victor and Catherine’s parents are forced to look to other potential solutions, including exorcism. But unlike the original Exorcist, this isn’t a specifically Catholic situation—Victor isn’t religious, Catherine’s family is evangelical—and we also have a Pentecostal-speaking person and a pagan priest. Oh, and Victor’s Catholic neighbor gets involved, so a Catholic priest comes into play. All of these different groups are seen as equally real and authentic – the believer suggests that all spiritual beliefs exist as a means of combating demonic possession.
And on top of all that, we also have Chris McNeil, Reagan’s haunted mother from the original film, played with dread by the great Ellen Burstyn. His scenes, of which there are only a couple, are certainly action-packed and fun, but also strangely unnatural – I think you could remove every reference to Chris McNeil and Reagan from Believer without having to rework the rest. . Of that, which gives the inclusion of Chris the feel of a late-stage rewrite.
Greene and his editor, horror vet Timothy Alverson, create an eerie atmosphere in Believer – jump scares are all it takes, and the experience of watching this movie, especially in a loud theater, is both intense and a lot of fun. After three Halloween movies together, they seem to have a good handle on how they play their horror game, and their kind of experimental formula really works. On the level of pure horror, it’s The Exorcist: Believer Very It’s effective, although it doesn’t go as far in its quest for thrills as the original – don’t expect anything on the level of the famous masturbation scene in Mo’min.
But there’s a bigger problem here – the original is a classic in the general sense, not just as horror, and Believer wants to set itself up as the true successor to that mantle by ignoring the rest of the franchise, like Greene did with Halloween. gave . However, Halloween was never a classy property, and Exorcist is — the original film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two of them. And that may be the problem.
The Exorcist had such a huge cultural impact in the 1970s because it was so disturbing in surprising ways that it stayed with audiences long after they left the theater. Believer lacks that same vibe, instead preferring to remix the original without taking it to a point where it means the original hasn’t gone before. Or at least it makes sense to me – as someone who was raised by evangelicals in the Deep South and then fled to the West Coast to get away from it all, the interdenominational religious alliance they put together in this movie just doesn’t do. Too much of anything for me
That said, no spoilers: Final Rules. It’s supposed to make you feel bad, but this is one aspect of Believer that actually feels like a step up from the original.
I think what this all adds up to is a new Exorcist sequel. It’s downright creepy and made me squeal in surprise several times, which I loved, but I think Greene and co. He wanted to be a believer more than this. Unfortunately, that’s all it can be.