Dear Hollywood, May the power of Christ compel you to never let David Gordon Green near another treasured horror franchise! Fifty years after William Friedkin unleashed The Exorcist on cinephiles, filmmaker David Gordon Green brings the classic horror back to the big screen with The Exorcist: Believer.
He is calling this new film a ‘spiritual sequel’ to the original 1973 film, ignoring the worthless sequels and prequels. The filmmaker is no stranger to reinventing horror franchises. Recently, he brought the Halloween franchise back to life, once again making a film that was set after John Carpenter’s classic 1978 original. The first film was okay and gave hope; however, it was a downward spiral of mess. Now it’s The Exorcist‘s turn. Is it in safe hands?
This 2023 version stars Leslie Odom Jr. as Victor Fielding, a widower who has been living with his daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett). The film opens in Haiti 13 years prior when we witness the tragic event of Victor’s wife’s death. Naturally, the event leaves Victor shaken and devoid of faith.
After school, Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum) head into the woods next to their school and disappear. Three days later, the pair is found with no clue about what actually happened to them. Slowly, the two start to show signs that not all is well. Both exhibit strange behavior, including Katherine having a breakdown in her God-loving parents’ church, Tony (Norbert Leo Butz) and Miranda (Jennifer Nettles). This leads Katherine’s mom to suspect that her daughter has been possessed by a demon.
Victor seeks more help and searches for the one woman who will understand his struggle, Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn).
William Freidkin sadly passed away in August this year and was not happy that his masterpiece of a film was being ripped to shreds. Gordon Green recently expressed his wish that he could have shown his version to Friedkin. The outcome wouldn’t have been positive, as Friedkin disapproved. He also promised he would come back to haunt and possess Gordon Green and make his life a living hell.
We can assume this project was set up before the directors Halloween films where made or at least the first one. If not the warning signs where there with the directors last excuses for films. It’s blatantly obvious those little green backs rather than an inch of quality are at play here. Every studio wants box office returns, in order to get that money we need quality and a reason to return to the cinemas to see the other 2 films. The Exorcist: Believer has none.
This wants to be a part of the original “The Exorcist” universe. It has plenty of references to that film and deserves to be judged against it. Ellen Burstyn even returned as Chris McNeil with a fleeting cameo about 40 minutes into the film. Was there any need to have Burstyn in the film other than for nostalgia? If anything, it was a wasted opportunity.
William Peter Blatty was a devout Catholic, and “The Exorcist” played like a test of faith, recognizing the evil that surrounds us and could challenge us. It had memorable characters, such as Father Karras (Jason Miller). He was actually the main character, not Linda Blair’s Regan. This new version has none, not even spinning heads or projectile pea soup.
The Exorcist: Believer is the lowest point of the franchise. Sluggish in pace with comedic dialogue, the film is a lazy, soulless mess that will be unforgivable to many horror fans.
Horror | USA, 2023 |15 | 4K, Blu-ray, DVD | 8th January 2024 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir. David Gordon Green | Leslie Odom Jr., Lidya Jewett, Olivia Marcum, Ann Dowd, Jennifer Nettles, Ellen Burstyn
The Exorcist: Believer review was originally posted The Chronicle