Where to Watch: Theaters
David Gordon Green
Peter Sattler, David Gordon Green, Scott Teems
Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr., Olivia O’Neill, Lidya Jewett
All media courtesy of Universal Studios
NOTE: This piece was written/aired during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the entertainment reviewed here wouldn’t exist.
In 1973 audiences were shocked when The Exorcist arrived at their local theaters. The first horror film many had seen that changed how people saw the genre. The performances, the risque topic of faith and demonology, and the incredible effects both practical and visual are what make this film iconic and one that still is regarded as the scariest film ever made. Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends director David Gordon Green hopes with this new addition to The Exorcist saga there can be a new evolution of this beloved franchise, but did it accomplish what he set out to do?
I find any film with a sub-genre of exorcism, spirits, demons, or anything like that, as the scariest style of horror. Maybe that makes me more of a sucker for the parts that for others may seem less frightening, but what makes scary films endure is through the story and characters. In The Exorcist: Believer I feel we have a fantastic lead with Leslie Odom Jr. as a father who lost his faith and is now thrust into hell itself. His daughter is friends with a family that we are immediately told to distrust due to a perceived prejudice, but when the two daughters go missing only to reappear 3 days later- these families become intertwined in a demonic dance that pays tribute to the original and may be the best since.
First, I appreciate that we’re put into the main story much faster than in previous installments. The story is somewhat familiar in the possession genre, but the stars of the film are absolutely the two girls played by Olivia O’Neill and Lidya Jewett. There were moments when I could not look at the screen because of how disturbed I was- and that is exactly what these films need to do. As this is a legacy film we have the return of Chris MacNeil played by Ellen Burstyn. While Jamie-Lee Curtis is the absolute star of the Halloween saga, I feel Ellen Burstyn was really only used as a quick nod to the original. There are a couple of very forced scenes that felt to me like they could have used some additional moments to build to them properly.
The conversation about faith and possession doesn’t really evolve in this film in a way that makes me feel like it is a complete reinvigoration, but this is still to me the strongest sequel to the original Exorcist and if you are in the mood for a Halloween scare, then this may be the one for you.
WATCH: Check out our exclusive interview with Director David Gordon Green and Executive Producer Jason Blum at the top of the page!