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‘The Exorcist: Believer’ May Make You a Skeptic (Review)

With ‘The Exorcist: Believer,’ director David Gordon Green has taken another legacy horror series and updated it for modern times. Whether or not he has succeeded in that is debatable.

I was a fan of his 2018 reboot of the ‘Halloween’ series, but stretching that into a new trilogy felt unnecessary. Now, the plan is for another new trilogy using the backbone of ‘The Exorcist.’ I gotta say, it feels like Green should stop while he’s ahead.

This is not to say that ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ is unwatchable. Far from it. The first half of the film is rather compelling. Unfortunately, things change once efforts are made to tie the new storyline into the original tale of possession from the 1973 classic.

Leslie Odam Jr. is Victor, an overprotective single father raising his teenage daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett). Victor’s wife Sorenne died in an accident while pregnant with her, so he has spent Angela’s young life doing everything he can to keep her safe.

But Angela is curious about her mom and makes plans with her friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) to go out into the woods and perform a ceremony to try and make contact with the afterlife. In a really bad case of “sorry, wrong number,” the girls appear to travel to Hell and come back with a demon. Oops!

Olivia O’Neill stars in ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ (Universal Pictures)

The Verdict

If this was just a standard horror film about some teenage girls who get possessed, I think that the overall reaction would be stronger. The trouble lies in bringing back the Chris MacNeil character and linking this to the possession of Regan from the original film. This is a flimsy connection to start with. It’s horrifically cringeworthy to watch legendary actress Ellen Burstyn get so poorly mistreated on screen at 90.

If anybody emerges from this unscathed it’s Ann Dowd. The brilliant character actress chews up every scene she is in as the neighbor of the Fieldings. She also happens to be a nurse. Did I mention she was once was on a path to being a nun? Look at how the stars align!

As the film winds towards the inevitable exorcism, it delivers the bare minimum of what is expected. We have characters questioning religion and scenes that provide the audience with moments of gore and a few overrated jump scares. The film really loses steam in the moments when it should be the most exciting.

‘The Exorcist: Believer’ has some decent moments, but fails to deliver as a sequel to one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Grade: C-

How to Watch ‘The Exorcist: Believer’

‘The Exorcist: Believer’ is playing now in theaters nationwide. It is expected to hit premium video-on-demand for $29.99 on Tuesday, October 24, which will make it available at home in time for Halloween. Since this is a Universal Pictures release, it will eventually stream exclusively on Peacock. If a 45-day window holds on this title, that should put its Peacock premiere around November 21.

As of now, ‘The Exoricst: Deceiver’ is anticipated to follow in 2025.

Looking for more scares? Check out our October 2023 streaming preview for recommendations.

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