I truly wanted to love this one you guys, I mean, c’mon it’s The Exorcist! The trailers looked promising, and I enjoyed this team’s prior work on the last Halloween trilogy, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride that is. But I just can’t recommend this one in theatres, sorry to say. There was so much potential here, and it ended being a huge let down. I can only imagine the disappointment in all the Exorcist fans out there.
That’s not to say there weren’t any good things to note. For one, I loved the performances and makeup of our two possessed girls. They truly looked and felt frightening. I also appreciated the attempt at cinematography looking similar to the original Exorcist. Sound design could’ve been better. I felt that all the little cutaway jump scares would’ve been more effective and creepy if they had actually abstained from throwing in scary sound effects in those moments. That’s what the original did, and it was very unsettling.
I’d argue the film started strong. It begins in the past and we are slowly introduced to the father and daughter, both main protagonists to the story. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know there are two girls that get possessed, but the film doesn’t focus on both equally. This was a mistake, especially because it feels like a certain movie was promised in the trailers, and we end up getting something different.
If we are supposed to feel bad when horrible things happen to characters, make us CARE about them. Half the time I didn’t know the characters on screen; they just seemed to appear all of a sudden and were participating in major plot points. If I don’t care about the fate of characters, there are no stakes, and the film loses my interest.
Believer also lacked mystery. I shouldn’t be able to correctly guess how the movie will end based off clear giveaways early on in the film. I’ll tell you now, that by the end of the first scene, I knew who was going to survive the possession. Other moments that frustrated me included characters over explaining events and how they relate to Christianity. We know. The audience should be trusted to put two and two together, otherwise this ends up being wasted script space which is precious if you’re trying to tell a compelling story, let alone a rebooted sequel of a beloved franchise.
I saved my biggest gripe of the film for last. We all know legacy characters like Laurie Strode, Sidney Prescott, Nancy Thompson, and so on always play a major role in rebooted sequels. With that said, why on EARTH did the trailer seem to promise the film would also revolve around Ellen Burstyn’s Chris Macneil, yet the film only featured her as a mere cameo or feature. The story’s reasoning for bringing her to meet the demon didn’t make much sense either, and even THAT scene was short-lived. I’m telling you Exorcist fans, do NOT get your hopes up for this legacy character. You’ll only be disappointed; it’s almost comical. The way they treated Burstyn’s character was simply blasphemous.
Ultimately, the ending was super weak and left me scratching my head. I can’t believe multiple people wrote this, read it, and approved the script. They really thought they did something, but it was just a huge disappointment, especially after all the hype built up over the past few months. Don’t waste your money or time on seeing this in theaters. If you’re THAT curious to see it still, wait until it goes to streaming. The Exorcist: Believer has earned the ICK of the week.