In an era flooded with horror reboots, the question arises: what’s the purpose of resurrecting The Exorcist in 2023, five decades after its iconic debut? For the studio, the answer seems simple: revitalizing a renowned brand, akin to the success witnessed with the recent Halloween revival. However, director David Gordon Green’s vision, as seen in The Exorcist: Believer, muddles the waters.
On paper, this sequel appears promising. Co-written by Green’s collaborator from the Halloween trilogy, Danny McBride, and featuring an outstanding performance by Leslie Odom Jr. as Victor, the movie delves into the mysterious disappearance of Angela (Lidya Jewett) and her friend Katherine. After a seemingly harmless seance, the two girls vanish for three days, only to return as unsettling, demon-possessed beings.
Believer offers an intriguing twist: it doesn’t limit itself to Catholicism but explores diverse religious beliefs. Victor, a non-religious character, finds himself intertwined with evangelical Christians, Pentecostals, and even a pagan priestess. These spiritual perspectives are presented as equally valid, suggesting a collective battle against demonic possession.
Adding a touch of nostalgia, Ellen Burstyn reprises her role as Chris McNeil, the mother of the possessed Regan from the original film. While her scenes are captivating, they feel somewhat extraneous, lacking integral connection to the plot.
Green and his editor, Timothy Alverson, successfully establish a chilling atmosphere, delivering effective jump scares and an intense viewing experience. Yet, Believer falls short of capturing the profound disturbance and lasting impact that made the original Exorcist a classic. Unlike its predecessor, Believer shies away from pushing boundaries, opting instead to remix the original storyline without venturing into unexplored territory.
However, the movie does redeem itself with its ending, evoking powerful emotions despite its bleakness. In essence, The Exorcist: Believer stands as a solid addition to the franchise, delivering genuine scares and surprising moments. While it succeeds in being a spine-tingling horror flick, it doesn’t fulfill the aspiration of being more than that—a missed opportunity to elevate the narrative to new heights.