The Exorcist: Believer Review: A Haunting Tale of Faith

The Exorcist: Believer is a compelling and unsettling addition to the iconic franchise. This new film is skillfully directed by David Gordon Green and co-written by Green and Peter Sattler. This sixth installment in The Exorcist series boldly disregards its predecessors. This movie is serving as a direct sequel to the original 1973 film and successfully reigniting the horror and tension that made the original a classic.

The Good:

The Exorcist: Believer (2023).

The film’s plot centers around Victor Fielding. Victor is played with emotional depth by Leslie Odom Jr. His daughter Angela is portrayed convincingly by Lidya Jewett.  Victor lost his wife after a tragedy in Haiti. The story takes a dark turn as Angela and her friend Katherine, played by Olivia Marcum, unwittingly unleash a malevolent force. The performances of Jewett and Marcum are particularly noteworthy. They capture  the vulnerability and terror of young girls caught in the grip of supernatural forces.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its exploration of faith and the human psyche. Victor, grappling with loss and shaken beliefs, is a compelling protagonist. Victor’s journey from disbelief to acceptance adds layers of depth to the narrative. Ann Dowd delivers a haunting performance as Ann the nurse and former novitiate nun. Ann’s unwavering conviction in the face of demonic possession provides a stark contrast to Victor’s skepticism. The tension between these characters enhances the film’s thematic resonance, delving into the battle between faith and doubt, reason and superstition.

Ellen Burstyn reprises her iconic role as Chris MacNeil. Her character bridges the gap between the original film and this sequel. Burstyn’s portrayal of a mother haunted by past trauma is poignant, reminding audiences of the franchise’s enduring legacy. She may have only a few minutes of screen time, but it’s expertly utilized.

The film’s pacing is well-crafted, maintaining a constant sense of unease that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. The suspenseful build-up gradually escalates into a series of chilling and visually striking sequences. Green skillfully utilizes practical effects and atmospheric cinematography to create a genuinely terrifying experience. The scenes involving the exorcism are particularly intense. These scenes showcase the desperate struggle against the demonic presence and culminate in a climactic showdown. The showdown itself is both horrifying and emotionally charged.

Furthermore, the film explores complex moral dilemmas, forcing characters and audiences alike to confront the consequences of their choices. The decision-making process, specifically Victor’s struggle with guilt and responsibility, adds depth to the horror elements, elevating the film beyond mere scares to provoke thought and introspection.

The supporting cast, including Jennifer Nettles and Norbert Leo Butz as Katherine’s parents, deliver solid performances, enhancing the film’s overall credibility. The inclusion of various religious figures, each representing different belief systems, adds a layer of depth to the narrative, highlighting the universal nature of the battle between good and evil. It’s a pulse-pounding story that feels wonderfully realized by Green, who clearly knows a thing or two about reviving franchises after just finishing his phenomenal Halloween trilogy last year.

The Bad:

The Exorcist: Believer (2023).

While The Exorcist: Believer successfully captures the essence of its predecessor and introduces new elements to the franchise, it is not without its flaws. Some plot points feel rushed, and certain characters could benefit from further development. Additionally, the film’s reliance on familiar tropes may feel predictable to seasoned horror enthusiasts.

Overall:

The Exorcist: Believer is a noteworthy entry in the franchise. This film skillfully blends elements of psychological horror, supernatural terror, and moral quandaries. With strong performances, effective direction, and a commitment to exploring the complexities of faith and fear, the film offers a satisfying and chilling experience for fans of the genre. While it may not reinvent the wheel, its ability to evoke genuine scares and provoke meaningful contemplation makes it a worthy addition to The Exorcist legacy.

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The Exorcist: Believer Review: A Haunting Tale of Faith
  • Acting - 8/10
    8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/10
    8/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
    8/10
  • Watchability - 8/10
    8/10
  • Rewatchability - 8/10
    8/10
Overall
7.9/10
7.9/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.