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The Exorcist: Believer Brings Closure To The Macneil Family, But Not The Franchise

Undoubtedly, when it comes to naming one of the greatest horror classics, William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece The Exorcist, comes to mind. Despite numerous attempts by filmmakers to replicate its success, none have made it close to achieving the level of fear and terror it instilled in its audience. Now, with director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum leading the charge for Blumhouse and Universal Pictures, fans of the franchise and new viewers alike can finally experience the horror of The Exorcist in a modern and terrifying new way.

This begs the question: is The Exorcist Believer as good as the original film? More specifically, does it provoke a powerful emotional response?


Tragedy & Faith

The Exorcist: Believer begins with a newlywed couple travelling to Haiti 15 years ago for work and leisure but experiencing a tragic loss afterwards. This event takes an emotional toll on the main character, Victor Fielding, played by Leslie Odom Jr. He now faces an ultimate challenge with his teenage daughter, Angela Fielding (Lidya Jewett), in Atlanta. In my opinion, the director skillfully introduces the family’s past tragedy and how it still affects them many years later. Furthermore, the introduction of another family with their own beliefs and the community of the town felt realistic and relatable, showcasing the normalcy of everyday American life. Nevertheless, the horror aspect of the film deviated from The Exorcist’s iconic horror signature.

The original Exorcist had plenty of psychological horror plus the torments of the victim, Regan Macneil and the people surrounding her once the possession took place. Some of the horrifying scenes were the head-spinning, blast of slimy green vomit, the Angiography scene of blood spurting, and even the crucifix masturbation. This illustrated how wicked the devil can be to destroy an innocent soul, even if it has to be extreme. The 2 hours and 12 minutes of the movie made a huge impact on every audience, be it in negative or positive emotional response.

The reboot/sequel of the movie lacked the intensity of the original when it comes to the poltergeist activities. The director created a few scary moments in the movie by using dark, menacing shots that build tension for some effective jump scares. However, these moments are few and far between, and the movie skips several build-ups of the possession that took place and only shows the results of it such as chipped nails, alteration of the face, and voice change. Instead, the film focuses more on the titular character’s desperation and faith (Victor Fielding), and how people from different walks of life come together to battle the evil force. Explaining how rituals of demonic possession from different religions are similar, and the power of community coming together gives hope regardless of background or faith. It’s a fresh perspective compared to the cliches of demonic possession movies, but it lacks the strong emotional intensity of how demonic possession can be.

Let’s get to one of the few things that makes The Exorcist: Believer worth watching. After a traumatic experience happening 50 years ago, Chris (Ellen Burstyn) gets some sense of closure, but not after an eye-popping revelation. The movie also explores the powerful bond between parents and children. It shows how far parents can go to protect their children in times of crisis, even if it means going to extreme lengths. Moreover, the film examines the role of faith in people’s lives and how it can be tested in unexpected ways, forcing them to make difficult decisions that can change their lives forever. Through its storytelling, The Exorcist: Believer sheds light on these profound themes, making it a decent film for fans of the franchise and new viewers alike.


Mild Impact

The Exorcist: Believer has the potential to retell the iconic story of possession and exorcism in a fresh and unique way. The exceptional cast, especially the performances of the two possessed girls- Lidya Jewett as Angela Fielding and Olivia O’Neill as Katherine- stand out as the movie’s strongest aspect. Moreover, the reprisals of two major stars from the original film add an extra layer of nostalgia to the experience.

While the movie manages to offer some intriguing new twists to the story, the overall impact of the film feels somewhat subdued when compared to the groundbreaking original The Exorcist. It’s a veritable cashgrab film; flat and soulless with its sole purpose being to offer some solid acting and just ticking the checkboxes.



We attended an early screener of The Exorcist: Believer courtesy of United International Pictures Malaysia. The Exorcist: Believer is slated to premiere in Malaysian cinemas on 5 October 2023.

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