The Exorcist: Believer
review by Bobby Blakey
In 2018 director David Gordon Green teamed up with Blumhouse to take on the Halloween franchise that spawned a whole new trilogy continuing from the original film. Now they are back once again taking on another iconic franchise with The Exorcist: Believer a direct sequel to the 1973 original film. The new film stars Leslie Odom, Jr, Lidya Jewett, Olivia O’Neill, Ann Dowd, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz and Ellen Burstyn reprises her iconic role as Chris MacNeil from the original 1973 film. Could this latest entry capture more of what made the original great or is it not worth an exorcism?
The Exorcist: Believer follows Victor Fielding who has raised their daughter, Angela on his own since the death of his pregnant wife in a Haitian earthquake 12 years ago. When Angela and her friend Katherine disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, it unleashes a chain of events that will force Victor to confront the nadir of evil and, in his terror and desperation, seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil.
I am always hesitant with these types of sequels since it not only has a lot to live up to from the original, but also how well can it capture the essence and connect without feeling forced. Here they made the smart choice of making its own thing and connecting through Regan’s experience from the original and her mother’s life since then. This helped to elevate it to something more than just another sequel, but a bigger universe that it exists in.
While I do love the original film, I have never been beholden to it or its legacy
so was excited to see what it had to offer and ended up enjoying it. It’s an interesting direction for the familiar direction with two girls affected that I think makes it feel fresh while not veering far from what makes it work. I loved this element and the two young girls played by Lidya Jewett and Olivia O’Neill are fantastic. They fully capture the initial innocence and pure evil that exists as their fates unfold. The entire movie hinges on them selling it and they do to perfection.
The movie does move a bit slow at times, but keeps you engaged enough that it never gets boring or bogged down by useless screen time. I was surprised how well it worked and not sure about the issues some had with it. To me the pacing felt very much on par with the original that isn’t overly exciting either until the last act, but here there just seemed to be more substance. It’s not a better film than the original, but for me personally manages to stand in the same area it exists in. I enjoyed this film way more than I expected to and really dug its direction and how it all came to an end in the final act.
There are some good nods to the original and respect to the franchise and while I have never needed more entries into this series I would be interested to see where they might take it based on the ending here. I know they have announced it, but also retooling some things to the follow-up so only time will tell if it will be worth waiting for. Until then, this entry is worth giving a chance to if you are fan of the genre or the original film.
Check out The Exorcist: Believer streaming now on digital and Peacock and then on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on December 19th from Universal Home Entertainment.