The Exorcist: Believer

The Exorcist: Believer Movie Review

“The Exorcist: Believer” is an attempt to revive a franchise that began 50 years ago. The original movie, when it came out, was the biggest and scariest thing out there. “The Exorcist” terrified audiences five decades in the past. The shocking visuals of a young girl taken over by a demon were horrifying. But now this is the right time to reboot? Whatever possessed them to think that?


Victor Fielding (played by Leslie Odom Jr.) and his very pregnant wife are visiting a vacation paradise. They are in Haiti right when a massive earthquake hit the country. That is a good thing that the Mom-to-be got a wonderful Voodoo blessing right before the deadly quake. That blessing means it will all be fine for her, and her baby — or maybe at least one of them.


Cut to thirteen years later, and Victor is a widower with a lovely teenage daughter. Angela Fielding (played by Lidya Jewett) is a normal teen, but with the added fun if growing up without a Mother. She is testy and full of angst, but tries to act sweet to her Dad. But what she would really love is to talk to her Mom.


Her friend at school, named Katherine (played by Olivia Marcum), tells her of some hocus-pocus witchy stuff that could get Angela to talk to Mommy. Katherine comes from a very religious family, and she will sometimes rebel against all of that. Her Mom and Dad, Miranda (played by Jennifer Nettles) and Tony (played by Norbert Leo Butz), can be a little overbearing.


Victor has a neighbor to one side. The woman there is named Ann (played by Ann Dowd). She works as a Nurse at the hospital and likes to watch over Victor and Angela. Across the street is Stuart (played by Danny McCarthy), who is a big burly guy with a friendly attitude. Living in Percy has been good for Victor. He rarely thinks back to that fateful day when his daughter was born, back to the day his wife died.


Angela and Katherine go straight from school out into the nearby woods. There are some areas that are secluded where they can work on a little mini-séance. Katherine thinks it’s cool to bend or break a few rules. Angela just wants to see if she can contact her dear Mother, out in the beyond. Well — there is some contact made…


Victor is shocked when Angela is not home. There is confusion with Tony and Miranda, also. Both of the girls are nowhere to be found. The three go out searching into the scary night-time “Jump Scare” woods. The police are called to help, and more searching goes on for about three days.


Angela and Katherine show up in three days, about 30 miles away hiding in a barn. Victor is pleased to have Angela back. He doesn’t mind that she gets a medical examination and some lengthy police questioning. Katherine gets the same treatment, and her parents are also glad to have her back.


But before you can say “The Power of Christ Compels You”, both of these girls are acting a little wiggy. They are having disturbing seizures and convulsions. They are picking at scabs and making fingernails bleed. Their skin becomes criss-crossed with scars and bloody lines. They are speaking lower and with a lot more cuss words.


Nurse Ann knows that Angela is suffering from demonic possession. Angela and Katherine must have gone out into the woods on “Possess One, Get One Free” day. Ann was going to be a Nun at one point, and she knows about those things. She tells Victor that the same thing happened to a lady and her daughter 50 years ago.


Victor goes and locates Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn). She is the one who had the exorcism done for her daughter Regan all those years ago. She tells him she is not an expert at any of the rituals, but hey — Percy sounds like nice place to visit this time of year. Chris will come there and help out if she can. She can be a big asset. But if there are dual demons, that also means she will be a big target.


Chris MacNeil has an up-close and personal run-in with the demon that possesses Katherine. She can no longer help while she is in the hospital. So, now it is up to Victor and Ann to try and get some get some official help. Ann contacts Father Maddox (E.J. Bonilla) to get the Church to help. But the higher-ups say no way. Victor decides to go a different route. It will be “Exorcism by Committee”. Yeah, that’s gonna work!


Victor will work with Tony and Miranda (the parents of Katherine). They band together with Nurse Ann, and next-door neighbor Stuart. Tony and Miranda get help from their Pastor (played by Raphael Sbarge). Stuart has assistance from a spiritual named Dr. Beehibe (played by Okwui Okpoksawili).


Katherine and Angela are taken to Victor’s house and strapped into chairs that have been bolted to the floor. This is going to a full-scale tag-team effort for the rag-tag group of non-exorcist-experts. The Priest is outside, sitting this one out – since the Bishop gave him the thumbs down. Maybe the Bishop knows what is going on, and he gave everyone the correct advice.


“The Exorcist: Believer” has been put together by the same creative team that took the old “Halloween” franchise and rebooted that series up one again. They are attempting to do the same thing here, but it not doing a good job coming out of the gate. This effort is leaden and lacks any clear focus.


David Gordon Green does a nice job creating jump scares and making the scenes appear off-kilter. The special make-up effects are terror inducing. But too bad this was first done, to a much more meaningful degree, around 50 years ago. This movie does not add one bit to the original. It can only pale in comparison.


One of things about the original was that got the viewer emotionally attached to the people in the story. It seemed there was some real weight to the events up on the screen. This movie does not have any comparable effect. You don’t really know these characters that much before the possessions and you find out very little even after that.


“The Exorcist: Believer” can be summed up with these questions: What the hell? What the devil were they thinking? What possessed them to do this now?


The Exorcist: Believer

Directed by: David Gordon Green
Screenplay by: Peter Sattler, David Gordon Green
Story by: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Based on Characters by: William Peter Blatty
Starring: Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Dowd, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz, Lidya Jewett, Olivia Marcum, Ellen Burstyn
Cinematography: Michael Simmonds
Edited by: Tim Alverson
Music by: David Wingo, Amman Abbasi
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: October 6, 2023
Length: 111 minutes
MPAA rating: R for some violent content, disturbing images, language and sexual references
Genre: Horror


Rating contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

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