The history of The Exorcist franchise has without question been a rocky one. Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, the original 1973 film, directed by William Friedkin was a massive critical and financial success. You could probably say that The Exorcist is one of the most well-known horror films of all time. Even people who have never seen it, know about it. I would probably put it right behind Jaws in terms of popularity. Four years later a sequel was released called Exorcist II: The Heretic and I consider it one of the very worst major studio sequels ever produced. In 1990 Blatty wrote and directed his own sequel, The Exorcist III and it’s actually the only other film in the series that is actually worth watching. Later-on, we would get not one, but two versions of a prequel and a short-lived television series. This year we got a brand-new sequel, The Exorcist: Believer which was produced by Blumhouse and directed by the man behind the Halloween trilogy reboot, David Gordon Green and it arrives on 4K UHD this week.
Photographer Victor Fielding (Leslie Odem Jr.) is a man without faith. After the tragic death of his pregnant wife thirteen years ago, he stopped believing in God. Yet, his unborn daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett) survived the massive earthquake that took her mother’s life. One day Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) venture into the woods to perform a séance, in hopes to contact Angela’s mother. Three days later the missing girls, Angela and Katherine reappear with no memory of where they went or what they did. Unfortunately, they brought something evil with them.
The Exorcist: Believer plays out a bit like the original, except instead of one possessed girl, we get two of them. Much like with the first film, the girl’s conditions get worse as the demon within them grows stronger. This is when the original film’s star Ellen Burstyn returns as Chris MacNeil to help give some insight into what happened to her daughter, Regan. Unfortunately, Burstyn doesn’t add anything interesting to the familiar storyline. Having two possessed children is a nice touch, it doesn’t help matters that the film isn’t remotely scary.
The 4K presentation with Dolby Vision gives us a strong video image with deep blacks that go well with the many darkly shot sequences. I mean, how many exorcisms do you see in bright rooms? The make up work used on the girls is also quite detailed and impressive. Thankfully, we get a great look at it here. The Dolby Atmos mix also delivers, especially when it comes to the film’s climactic exorcism. While this is a great looking presentation, I can’t say the same for the film itself. I know that Believer is the first chapter in a planned trilogy but hopefully it will get better from here.
- MAKING A BELIEVER – Filmmakers and cast reveal their collective approach to bringing differing perspectives into this drama about synchronized possessions.
- ELLEN AND LINDA: REUNITED – THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER expertly weaves the fates of Chris and Regan MacNeil into its story. Witness a moment of cinema history as these two Hollywood icons meet on-set for the first time in years.
- STAGES OF POSESSION – Hear from Lidya Jewett, Olivia O’Neill, and special makeup FX designer Christopher Nelson as they discuss the physical and mental changes the girls go through as they advance through the possession.
- THE OPENING – The first scene of the film takes place in Haiti, a location far from the rest of the story. Filmmakers and star Leslie Odom, Jr. discuss how this scene sets up the rest of the film.
- EDITING AN EXORCISM – THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER culminates with a riveting exorcism scene featuring all the main characters. Director David Gordon Green and editor Tim Alverson explore the challenges of editing such a big scene.
- MATTERS OF FAITH – Experts in theology weigh in on how they consulted filmmakers to ensure depictions of the religious ceremonies in the film were as accurate as possible.
- FEATURE COMMENTARY – with co-writer/director David Gordon Green, executive producer Ryan Turek, co-writer Peter Sattler, and special makeup FX designer Christopher Nelson.
By: Marc Ferman