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Home > ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ (2023): A Review

‘The Exorcist: Believer’ (2023): A Review

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An Underwhelming Sequel

The Exorcist‘s legacy continues with the new sequel reboot, The Exorcist: Believer. The highly anticipated movie kept fans waiting to see if it would live up to the original, which is almost impossible. The movie was directed by David Gordon Green and written by Green, himself, in addition to Peter Sattler. Alongside Green and Sattler, Jason Blum, head of Blumhouse Productions, and David C. and James G. Robinson of Morgan Creek Entertainment Productions contributed to the production as well. To further add to the mix of companies on this project, Rough House Pictures was also involved. That’s a lot going on behind the scenes, which could be helpful to a film’s overall success. But it ultimately proved to be useless when the movie was released. The budget for the new sequel reached around $300 million while the movie itself only grossed $92 million worldwide. As expected, The Exorcist: Believer had its ups and downs but was ultimately unable to live up to the original 1973 movie. 

A Minimalistic Plot 

The story follows two families and two thirteen-year-old girls. One teenager is Angela Fielding and her single dad, Victor Fielding. The other family is Katherine’s, which is made up of her mother Miranda and her father Tony. The two young girls go missing for three days after school, and when they emerge once again, it seems like they brought something back with them. The premise is interesting; it already provides more background about possession compared to the original, but the plot ultimately fell flat at the end, and the story felt hollow in the middle. The girls immediately go missing and come back possessed. Even though the possession does not take long to set in, it is obvious that something is wrong with the kids. With the exception of the heartbreaking opening scene and the climax, there are not many intense moments during the story. Overall, the movie, story-wise, was nothing special. There were not many jump scares or great moments of suspense either that worked (maybe two overall), which is disappointing, considering the potential it had.

An Ensemble Cast, For What?

What saved this movie and kept it engaging to watch were some key performances, but the acting and characters still felt like they could have been expanded upon throughout the two-hour plot. To start with the Fielding family, Angela is played by Lidya Jewett, and her father, Victor Fielding, is played by Leslie Odom Jr. They had strong on-screen chemistry as a father-daughter duo. The start of the movie did well to establish the kind of relationship they have. It felt loving but distant because of the loss of Angela’s mother, Sorren, who is played by Tracey Graves. Even the prologue scene does well to establish Victor and Sorren’s relationship, which eventually translates into his present dynamic with his daughter. Their performances were great, but Jewett’s performance outshines everyone in the movie. She truly delivers a haunting and terrifying performance as a possessed child. Odom Jr. played the worried yet stoic dad convincingly, especially considering his character’s background. 

Katherine’s family consists of her mother Miranda, played by Jennifer Nettles, and her father, Tony, played by Norbert Leo Butz. This group  not stand out as much as the Fieldings. The only one that truly left an impression was Katherine herself, played by Olivia O’Neill, who brought everything she had when it came to portraying a young, scared, and possessed child. One of her scenes stands out as a sad, shocking moment that will definitely leave audiences looking back in fear and even sorrow. Other than that, her family’s dynamic were not as strong as Angela’s and her father’s. It would have been beneficial to establish a better relationship between Katherine and her parents. This would have made the possession ten times more impactful. It is not enough to simply rely on the fact that they are family members; the film needed to show how close they were and why it mattered to bring Katherine back. 

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The rest of the cast did not stand out, which weakened the movie. Other characters included the nurse and Fielding’s neighbor Ann, played by Ann Dowd; Danny McCarthy as Stuart; E.J. Bonilla as Father Maddox; and Raphael Sbarge as the pastor. Their performances were not convincing, and they didn’t have a forceful impact on the plot at all. The biggest shock and most interesting character was Ellen Bustryn’s legacy character, Chris MacNeil, but even her character arc was disappointing and leaves viewers shocked in a bad way.

Other Elements 

Much like most of the acting, the cinematography and other formal elements of the movie were nothing special. There were several typical “horror movie shots” that lacked creativity but were able to build some suspense. The movie also used a lot of digital zoom, which—to the average viewer—would not be that evident. But it does become increasingly clear when each shot feels exactly like the previous ones. This repetition eventually becomes monotonous and predictable. The cinematography, in the end, does not stand out. 

What really stood out was the use of lighting throughout the movie. There were quite a few moments where scenes were visually amplified due to the blue lighting used. One of the best scenes in the movie used light and a lack of it to create a terrifyingly suspenseful sequence between Angela and Victor. The height of tension also used lighting and shadows to create a stunning visual on screen that added to the intensity of the moment. 

Another outstanding aspect was the use of sound. The movie played with jarring noises to scare audiences. One scene will be extremely quiet, while the next will start off with a loud, ear-shattering noise. It really helped keep the urgency levels high throughout the duration of the plot and maintained a good level of disorientation for the audience. It was consistent and worked really well. 

Final Rating 

The Exorcist: Believer was an easy watch. It holds up as a typical run-of-the-mill horror movie, knowing the original film it is trying to follow up on. It did not push out of its comfort zone; it did not take any risks to make it stand out amongst the plethora of horror movies that are being released. Many choices could have been taken in order to truly make it a gruesome and disturbing movie that could have matched the original of 1973, but it felt as though a safe route was taken in order to just get the movie made.

The Exorcist: Believer is nothing special. The plot does not move as intensely as it should; the acting was decent for the most part, but the characters need work, and visually, nothing truly makes its mark on the viewers. The ending was heartbreaking, but the overall movie should have done more to leave a lasting impact. Sequels are difficult—horror sequels are even more so. The film does what it needs to do with stellar mediocrity and proved to be an underwhelming follow-up. Overall, it’s a good way to pass the time, but if viewers are looking for a genuinely scary movie, then this one should be skipped. 

The Exorcist: Believer is now in theaters and will eventually be streaming on Peacock.

Official Universal Trailer of The Exorcist: Believer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author at Dead Talk News

Yasmine, a talented intern in TV and film writing, possesses a deep-seated passion for storytelling. She is pursuing her degree in Cinema and Media studies and Creative Writing with a clear objective of becoming a screenwriter. Her primary creative outlets include film, reading, and writing, and she holds Little Women as her favorite movie.

Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.