When the timeless terror of “The Exorcist” first graced the silver screen in 1973, it sent shockwaves through the world of horror, becoming an iconic cornerstone of the genre. Fast forward half a century, and we find ourselves in a world where the talented David Gordon Green dares to pick up the torch with “The Exorcist: Believer”. This film aims to continue the chilling tale, but can it measure up to the unrelenting dread of its predecessor?
A Chilling Beginning
The story centres around Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.), a single father haunted by a harrowing decision he made in the aftermath of a devastating Haitian earthquake. Forced to choose between saving his wife and their unborn child, Victor’s life took a dark turn. Thirteen years later, he’s raising his daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett), alone, struggling with his waning faith. The plot thickens when Angela and her friend, Katherine (Olivia O’Neill), mysteriously vanish, only to reappear three days later—profoundly changed, with no recollection of their ordeal.
As we step into the world of “The Exorcist: Believer”, we encounter a narrative that is brimming with promise. Yet, it stumbles out of the gate due to pacing issues. The transition from innocent teenagers to demonic vessels occurs too abruptly, leaving us yearning for the gradual descent into possession that made the original “Exorcist” a masterpiece. Instead of connecting with the characters’ inner struggles, we witness a swift and unsettling transformation.
One of the film’s chief shortcomings is the abrupt introduction of characters, including the return of Ellen Burstyn‘s Chris MacNeil. Her presence is fleeting and superficial, leaving us wanting more. The connection between her character and the demonic entities remains frustratingly vague, making us wonder about the untapped potential. The film’s approach to these characters, especially Burstyn’s, feels disjointed.
A Chaotic Journey
“The Exorcist: Believer” grapples with uneven pacing as it rushes towards its climactic exorcism. The erratic prominence of certain characters and the unexpected connections between them only adds to the confusion. The film juggles too many narrative elements, overshadowing the central father-daughter storyline.
Innovating the Ritual
When we finally reach the exorcism scene, the film attempts to innovate, though it doesn’t entirely break free from the traditional exorcism tropes. While it features a mix of religious rites and flashy CGI effects, it leans heavily on the Catholic exorcism, occasionally veering towards the mundane. Sustaining interest in determined prayer becomes a challenge.
The film’s conclusion leaves us pondering its narrative choices and the central demon’s enigma. It raises questions about the demon’s motivations and why two girls were chosen over one, yet it fails to provide satisfying answers.
Action Reloaded’s Verdict
In the end, “The Exorcist: Believer” aspires to recapture the essence of its iconic predecessor but struggles to carve out its identity. Pacing issues, abrupt character transitions, and missed narrative opportunities hinder its full potential. While it delivers spine-tingling moments through jump scares, the film’s demonic antagonist raises more questions than it answers. For diehard fans of the original, there’s a touch of nostalgia, but those seeking a fresh and innovative take on exorcism may need to explore other cinematic options.
★★★☆☆ Action Reloaded
“The Exorcist: Believer” is haunting theatres from 6th October 2023, beckoning you to confront your fears.
Watch the trailer now
Or check out the review of the original “The Exorcist”, 1973 if you haven’t already.