Damn this sequel to Hell!
This was my intro to my review of “The Pope’s Exorcist,” and now, I’m using it in my take on “The Exorcist Believer.”
“It would take a miracle to top the pure horrors of William Friedkin’s take on William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist.” It’s impossible to top that masterpiece, even if we’v had some success with the first “Conjuring” film from a decade ago.”
“The Exorcist Believer” is yet another horror sequel for director David Gordon Green to bring an iconic actress back in her territory. He brought Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode in the 2018 “Halloween”,” and now, he brings back Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, the mother of her possessed daughter in the Friedkin classic.
Unfortunately, this sequel is far cry from the original classic. In fact, one of the best movies of all time has spawned one of the worst sequels of all time. And I skipped all their sequels and prequel. “I save my love for better movies,” to quote Michael Phillips.
Leslie Odom, Jr. plays a photographer and widower named Victor Fielding, whose teenage daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett) goes missing with her friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) in the woods after performing a ritual to communicate with the dead.
Three days later, the girls are found, but think they’ve only been gone for a few hours. They have no memory of where they’ve been these last few days.
But of course, you know these girls have gotten themselves in deep, satanic trouble. As they struggle to get back to reality, Angela bites off a few of her fingernails in an offscreen (thank Heavens) and inhumane way, while Katherine screams “The Body and The Blood” over and over again in church.
Yup, there’s something seriously wrong with them.
Victor and Katherine’s parents (Jennifer Nettles and Norbert Leo Butz) are now all in a tizzy. Angela has to be institutionalized, while the other has to be at home, where things are bound to take a turn for the worst. Smart move, Mom and Dad.
This is when they enlist the help of Chris, who hasn’t reconnected with her daughter (guest star Linda Blair) in years, a neighbor and former nun named Ann (Ann Dowd), who had to abort her child, and we get less character development from a spiritual healer named Dr. Beehibe (Okwui Okpokwasili), and three priests: Don Revans (Raphael Sbarge), Father Maddox (E.J. Bonilla), and the Pentecostal preacher Stuart (Danny McCarthy). At least the first two characters in this paragraph respectively have something to talk about.
The earlier scenes get noisy with a toddler misbehaving during a family photo at Victor’s job, and his daughter acting like a childish vegetarian (even at her age). And the later scenes get noisy, but not the “M-E-R-R-I-N” noisy that chilled us. In fact, none of these scenes are scary. They’re just plain boring.
Linda Blair knew how to play a possessed girl, while this generation is degrading. If this movie were a reboot, it would have gone deeper into Hell. Although, it couldn’t get deeper than that.
David Gordon Green has proven himself to be a virtuoso filmmaker, but every once in awhile, he has to screw up. I know next time he can do better. I was looking forward to “The Exorcist Believer,” because of how he did a good job with the 2018 “Halloween,” but this movie is a real loser.
William Friedkin, William Peter Blatty, and Jason Miller would all be spinning (their heads) in their graves.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.