Movie: The Exorcist Believer
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, Morgan Creek Entertainment, Rough House Pictures
Director: David Gordon Green
Producers: Jason Blum, David C Robinson, James G Robinson
Scriptwriters: Peter Sattler, David Gordon Green
Main Cast: Leslie Odom Jr, Lidya Jewett, Olivia O’Neill, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz, Ann Dowd, Ellen Burstyn
Release Date: October 6th 2023 (US)
Running Time: 111 minutes
Guess who’s back? Back again? David Gordon Green’s back and please don’t tell a friend. Yep, the proverbial directorial death nail is lodged into the Exorcist as David Gordon Green farts out a lazy, worthless cash grab which s**ts all over William Friedkin’s legacy. I know there were s**t Exorcist sequels before but this is taking any remaining goodwill the franchise had and kicking into a shallow grave. I might be being a bit harsh but honestly after what he did to the Halloween films I’m most likely not being….
The Exorcist: Believer follows Victor (Odom Jr) as he tries to raise his daughter, Angela (Jewett). This comes after losing his wife in a devastating earthquake in Puerto Rico thirteen years before. However, Angela and her friend, Katherine (O’Neill), go missing for three days only to mysteriously reappear, people begin to assume the worst. So when supernatural events start happening around the girls, the townsfolk desperately have to band together in order to save the two girls from the clutches of hell.
Nostalgia in The Exorcist: Believer
Now as much as I dislike David Gordon Green as a director, I will give him credit for not overly relying on nostalgia in Exorcist: Believer like he did in his Halloween films. However, he arguably goes too far the other way by basically using Ellen Burstyn’s Chris as a cheap pop. Honestly, seeing her was a nice moment of nostalgia but having her be used as a mouthpiece for exposition only to have her see red feels like a massive s**t on the already deadass legacy.
Again so much of this film is desperately relying on the audience’s love of Chris because beyond her showing up and an exorcism attempt there’s very little which actually makes this an Exorcist film. So applause to Gordon Green for briefly removing his nostalgia glasses. However he only rams them in the audience’s face to desperately convince them this is a good film.
Cinematography in The Exorcist: Believer
So if the nostalgia failed surely there’s some redeemable qualities in the film? Honestly, there’s very little redeeming in Exorcist: Believer. Take for example the cinematography. In certain scenes, Gordon Green may as well be placing massive signs on the screen saying there’s a jump scare coming. Take a scene in the opening where Victor sneaks around his house to get some money back off Angela. Because of the wide focus and deep depth of field, the audience can easily telegraph where he’s going to come from thus ruining even the slightest hint of surprise.
Another example of the film’s irredeemability is the rehashing of the same tired ass plot point from Batman Forever. Here we see the town having to choose between saving Angela or Katherine from the demon’s clutches. And since Angela basically has plot armour you can see where that’s going, no matter how many pans to Katherine’s parents the film attempts to use.
Horror Moments in The Exorcist: Believer
And somehow the worst part of The Exorcist: Believer is the lack of any real horror at all. Whereas the original Exorcist revolutionised the horror genre with iconic scenes like Regan’s head spinning or the spider walk down the stairs, here the most horrifying scene is oh no a bath full of blood. Or the possessed children get a bit mad…
And even when the film attempts a jump scare, it’s so easily telegraphed that it barely scares the audience. Honestly the only thing truly scary about The Exorcist: Believer is it’s runtime as it’s an hour and 50 minutes you’ll never get back. Like beyond the obvious makeup and look of the possessed girl, the film seems uninterested in making use of the physical body horror that made the Exorcist so iconic. Honestly, what possessed David Gordon Green to butcher the Exorcist this badly?
To summarise The Exorcist: Believer, this is a perfect example of why attaching David Gordon Green to a horror film will unfortunately backfire as there’s little to any horror or scares. Whilst there’s a nice moment between Chris and Regan, that’s about the best thing in the film and it’s the ending which feels especially funny. Overall, a terrible film which really couldn’t have tried harder to s**t all over William Friedkin’s legacy.
Overall Rating: 3/10 – Flawed
Target Audience: 15+
Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Severe Violence and Gore, Moderate Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Severe Frightening and Intense Scenes