The Exorcist: Believer (2023)

The Exorcist: Believer (2023) Cover

The Exorcist: Believer has a few interesting themes portrayed related to parenting/regret and faith/doubt but doesn’t fully immerse the audience in those messages; it lacks intrigue, offering surface-level impact. Despite haunting makeup, practical/visual effects, and editing, the screenwriters fail to take creative risks that would elevate the story. I love what A24 has done with horror films such as Hereditary and this year’s Talk To Me- but this is certainly not in the same hemisphere. Instead, we get a straightforward story that lacks spicy suspense, drama, or true horror. It’s rather safe/predictable and despite its less than 2 hour run-time I could not wait for the film to be over.

The first act has two teenage girls named Angela and Katherine, who venture off into woods, become cursed, and for the rest of the film we get to experience the duo act horrifically outlandish. Authorities, hospital staff, and their parents attempt to free the girls via exorcism of the evil spirit that has latched on to them.

These characters feel incredibly hollow. Despite the attempt to add depth to our protagonist; he’s a father of one of the girls (Leslie Odom Jr.), it all feels poorly contrived. The movie begins with a flashback of something absurdly catastrophic happening to his wife and it merely came off as if the writers were trying to quickly check off, “Connect audience to the main character” but I did not feel that way. We know truly nothing substantial about these people, but we are jolted so unnaturally into their world so we can get to the spooky creepy stuff. Why does Hereditary work? (spoiler alert) We care about a mother who had something horrific happen to her daughter…and the way it happens feels real; In contrast, The Exorcist: Believer has something horrific happen too but the pacing moves way too fast and it feels silly/unnatural.

While the beginning of the film feels poorly manufactured, at least screen writers tried to connect us with the characters. However, after that opening there is literally no substance whatsoever. It’s a countdown to see these girls act creepy and people trying various things to stop them. We go as far as pulling the lead character from the classic 1973 film, Chris MacNeil (who is reprised by Ellen Burstyn), but despite her previous exorcism experience with her daughter she doesn’t seem to offer anything to this film other than solely being a familiar face. After Macneil can’t crack these girls free, it’s Ann Dowd’s turn, whose terrific acting that is so fun to watch can’t save the bare-bones story. After her, it’s the pastor (who we see previously had cold feet). And there’s nothing interesting about watching all of these people whom we do not care for try different means to free the girls; it feels incredibly repetitive. 

Go see Saw X if you’re in the mood for horror at the movie theaters; it’s a much more clever crafted horror film with an actual compelling backstory. Or, if you want to be adventurous, go see Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour ; I've seen the tour live; it's phenomenal and unlike any other concert I've attended.

Final Verdict:Despite haunting makeup, practical/visual effects, and editing, the screenwriters fail to take creative risks that would elevate the story