4 out of 5 stars
It has been 40 years since the original “Exorcist” movie was released in 1973, paving the way for contemporary supernatural horror movies. Various renditions of “The Exorcist” have been made in more recent years, including a television series in 2016 and, now, “The Exorcist: Believer.”
It’s important to note that if you are hoping for “The Exorcist: Believer” to be as scary as its 1973 counterpart was during its time, you will be disappointed. However, what it lacks in terror it makes up for in plot and commentary. The casting, cinematography and film score all make the film a success.
“The Exorcist: Believer” is an anxiety-inducing story about two young girls named Angela (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) possessed by one demon, which happens to be the same evil entity from the original film. However, the similarities between “The Exorcist” (1973) and “The Exorcist: Believer” start and end with the reappearance of the demon’s reign of terror through the girls.
Good horror movies have always tended to use current events as inspiration, and they know how to appeal to people’s emotions by reflecting real fear felt from social issues and crises. The original “Exorcist” film was experimental and groundbreaking for the horror genre partly because of its graphic nature, but it also tapped into the political and economic unrest of the 1970s.
The 2023 film establishes a clear theme of division among people based on constructs of race, class and faith. Angela is growing up agnostic with a widowed father named Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.), while Katherine is raised by two upper-middle class Christian parents who reflect the ideals of a nuclear family.
These dynamics were central to the point when the families were united through a common enemy in the demon possession of their children, but often can’t see eye-to-eye, which only empowers the demon’s hold over their daughters. By the end of the movie, we are left wondering if the families’ attempt at uniting was enough to expel the evil entity. The air of uncertainty is the most unsettling part of this film.
This film is not meant to scare you in the same capacity that “The Exorcist” (1973) was meant to, but this is unsurprising due to the desensitization of horrific images and topics in the media. However, it may leave you feeling on edge due to the movie’s overall uneasy and anxious tone reflected in the acting and music throughout the film.
In correlation to its commentary on race and class relations, “The Exorcist: Believer” also demonstrates a shift in the prioritization of religion within the newer generations. The film reflected the decline while also exploring the advancement of other religions, signifying the importance of unity and solidarity among people inclined to different practices.
“The Exorcist: Believer” stays true to the original story and offers a sense of nostalgia for die-hard classic horror fans by repurposing the iconic theme music from 1973 and the reappearance of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) from the original film.
In the spirit of Halloween, “The Exorcist: Believer” is a great movie to celebrate the fleeting season. There is no better time than right now to reexperience the continuation of this iconic horror movie.
Photo from variety.com.