Review by Adam Donato
A trend with horror lately has been comedians tackling the genre. David Gordon Green is one of the most notable examples of this with his take on the Halloween franchise. Universal and Blumhouse reward him with a second horror trilogy based on an iconic horror movie with terrible sequels. The first Halloween requel was a hit, but the sequels fared worse both critically and at the box office. Will David Gordon Green learn from that experience with The Exorcist trilogy? The bar seems lower this time, as The Exorcist sequels aren’t as popular as the Halloween sequels. Not to mention, it’s been almost twenty years since the latest movie in the franchise. Should you believe in The Exorcist: Believer?
For the most part, this requel really works. The weakest elements of the movie are when they reference the original. Ellen Burstyn is GOATed, but unnecessary in this movie. With a run time of a minute over two hours, cutting her would probably knock off fifteen minutes. The original had a similar run time, but this over-reliance on flexing the brand is the biggest weight on this story. This is not detrimental, as the main story is very compelling and is carried by Leslie Odom Jr. It’s full of moral conundrums and tragic fates. Like the Halloween franchise, it’s nice to see a director try to have some themes in their blockbuster horror movie.
David Gordon Green feels like he’s matured with The Exorcist: Believer. It’s arguably just as funny as any of the Halloween movies, but it’s much more reserved here. The themes are already far more concise with the first Exorcist movie. It’s a movie about faith — a man who has lost his faith and a family that misuses theirs. The original aspects of this movie are where it truly shines, so Gordon Green deserves massive credit. That being said, the necessary trappings of an Exorcist film are fully delivered.
In fact, they're doubled. That’s right, two girls need to be exorcised this time. Both are creepy as all hell, with terrifying performances from Olivia O’Neill and Lidya Jewett. Ann Dowd does a lot with significant screen time here, specifically the monologue she gets. Jennifer Nettles is put through the emotional wringer as much as anyone. While the rest of the cast was good, Leslie Odom Jr. Is such a compelling lead and likable character overall. DGG’s Halloween movies always had a main character problem, but it’s clear that won’t be a problem here. He had a character arc and everything. If there is going to be an Exorcist legacy sequel, the franchise is in good hands going forward.
It’s nice when a horror film is able to accomplish hitting the emotional beats as well as the horror beats. The Exorcist: Believer will have two sequels, unless it totally bombs. Saw X received positive reviews last week, It Lives Inside is a box office dud, and The Nun II is too far removed. Other than that, it won’t have to compete in the horror department until Five Nights at Freddy’s at the end of the month. It's a quality horror film all around, so be sure to check The Exorcist: Believer out in theaters.
The Exorcist: Believer hits theaters on October 6.