Entertainment"The Exorcist: Believer". The worst movie of the year. "They spent a fortune on a total nightmare"

"The Exorcist: Believer". The worst movie of the year. "They spent a fortune on a total nightmare"

A scene from the movie "The Exorcist: Believer"
A scene from the movie "The Exorcist: Believer"
Images source: © photo press materials
3:46 AM EDT, October 7, 2023

It's a bit hard to believe in the sense of creating films like "The Exorcist: Believer". Watching them is pure masochism. I did it for you, so you could spend your money on something else.

Reviving famous horrors has been one of the main activities of Hollywood studios for many years. Usually, it turns out terribly ("Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street"), but from time to time there are exceptions to the rule. We're talking about surprisingly decent slashers, like the ones shown in last year's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", or this year's "Evil Dead Rise", a juicy B-class slaughter.

The "Halloween" series, featuring Michael Myers, deserves its own paragraph because it has had two successful remakes/sequels. First, in the first decade of the 21st century, Rob Zombie did it ("Halloween II" is one of the most deliciously psychoanalytic horrors in film history), and in 2018, David Gordon Green did it with the help of several screenwriters.

Still in 2021, Green directed the underestimated "Halloween Kills", but the culmination of his trilogy, that is, "Halloween Ends", was rightly butchered by critics and viewers. When I heard that Universal had entrusted him with resurrecting the "Exorcist" franchise (the studio paid as much as 400 million dollars. for its rights), my alarm bells went off.

After watching "The Exorcist: Believer", I'm now certain that Green turned out to be a mere trickster. He managed to fool me a couple of times, but eventually it became clear that all his tricks and a general understanding of the horror cinema convention are so barren and devoid of any spark, that I start to wonder why I gave him any credit of trust in the first place.

It's a unique paradox that "The Exorcist" by William Friedkin from 1973, an excellent adaptation of the novel by William Peter Blatty, has seen sequels - if not mindless resurrections, then unpalatable continuations. After all, it's a story that is so self-contained and complete that there was never a need to expand its universe, but money in Hollywood always has its way. Suffice it to say, "The Exorcist" also had a negative impact on the horror film genre, as it significantly triggered a trend for possession stories. In recent decades, a host of cinematic nightmares have been produced, better left unmentioned.

"The Exorcist: Believer" is a very unsuccessful horror film.
"The Exorcist: Believer" is a very unsuccessful horror film.© photo press materials

One must also include the new "Exorcist," which was conceived as a direct sequel to the classic movie, in this band of junk. Green, along with the screenwriters, even brought back the character Chris MacNeil (played by 90-year-old Ellen Burstyn) to emphasize that his trash wipes out everything that happened after the first part. Interestingly, the movie begins according to the Hitchcock rule, which is to start with (literally) an earthquake.

Then we jump forward by several years. Victor Fielding is raising his daughter alone. When Angela disappears with a friend in the woods, trying to make contact with her deceased mother, their families desperately try to find them. The girls return after three days, unable to remember what happened to them. Unexplained things start to happen to them.

I doubt anyone would be surprised that "The Exorcist: Believer" is essentially a remix of scenes from Friedkin's movie. For example, there's an exotic prologue - this time instead of Iraq, we have Haiti. The aforementioned MacNeil was introduced into the plot only so that the creator had a chance to nod to fans of the original. Furthermore, this character, as well as the actress herself, were pretty much ridiculed, because almost every line out of her mouth sounds like texts from some obsessed blog about demons, faith, and exorcisms.

Failed remixes are one thing, but even the worn-out themes don't work for Green. The plot of the new "Exorcist" clearly suggests that Angela's pain after her deceased mother made her susceptible to the actions of supernatural forces. We have seen something like this this year, for example, in the much better film "Talk to Me". If one were to maliciously compare the two films, one could notice how "The Exorcist: Believer" seems backwards compared to contemporary horror. Its narrative pace is deadly slow - during the movie, I had a hard time not falling asleep. There is absolutely no suspense. You can forget about fear.

When the theme of possessed girls finally appears, everything comes down to occasional screams and mediocre make-up effects (of course, one of the actresses was heavily made to resemble the appearance of Linda Blair's character from the original). In reality, things only begin to happen in the finale, when exorcisms are introduced, but the viewer doesn't fully feel the weight of the situation. Instead of watching a battle between good and evil, it's like watching some comically edited scuffles of insignificant characters.

Now I may surprise someone, but I have to write this. A certain message also emanates from Green's film. And what a message! The director claims that evil can only be defeated when people unite. They may have different beliefs, but the point is, at a given moment, they stand against what could tear their families or communities apart.

Everything is wonderful, but such a statement still gets lost in a sea of trivialities and clichés. Every few sentences we hear quotes from the Bible, potentially meant to give weight to what's happening. However, there's no reflection in it, just empty pop-culture set-pieces and nothing more. Before making his film, Green could have taken a look at Mike Flanagan's "Midnight Mass". At least he would have seen how to properly combine horror with serious religious themes.

The funniest thing about all of this is that a sequel to this movie is supposed to be released in two years. "The Exorcist: Believer" cost 30 million dollars, so even if it flops in theaters, Universal still has a chance with subsequent productions. The problem is that they should not entrust them to Green, because so far the studio has spent a fortune, and the first fruit of this is a total nightmare. I feel like a masochist who went to watch it for you. Don't waste your money. Unless, like me, you enjoy suffering in the cinema.

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