The original Exorcist film is said by many to be one of the scariest movies of all time. While watching The Exorcist: Believer, I could see that there were some decent ideas somewhere inside this movie. It is just extremely unfortunate that they play it safe for just about the entire runtime.
The movie is about Angela and her friend Katherine, who go missing in the woods for three days. They return showing signs of possession and both girl’s parents do what they can to save their children.
First, I want to say that the performances are really great in this. Leslie Odom Jr is so good in this. The emotion he is able to convey in what otherwise is a muddled film really comes through. Also, the performances of the two daughters need to be commended. You can tell there is a lot they have to go through and they really shine through all that makeup.
The biggest problems with the movie are its direction, editing, and the true lack of scares. It is surprising to me that the sequel to one of the scariest movies ever made could end up being so tame. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good build-ups at times and there are some legit creepy scenes. The problem is that almost every time there is little to no payoff.
There are quiet scenes where some tension is building up for all of a sudden, the scene is over and we are on to something else. It was very frustrating to start to become invested in a scare or a plot point, just for that idea to be quickly scrapped.
This movie definitely leans more towards character-building. For the first 30 minutes, it is interesting and you care about the family. As soon as the demonic scenes come into play, the movie begins to crash fast. There is nothing wrong with focusing on characters but it is kind of odd that your demon movie lacks many demon things.
For the scenes that are supposed to be scary, there also isn’t much here that you haven’t seen before. Many common horror tropes present themselves. Repeated tropes are fine. You can do something we have seen before if it is done well. Just about everything here, we have seen before in every other film that has to do with exorcism.
There is one scene towards the end that feels original. The concept surrounding it is actually creepy but even that is ruined because everything around it is convoluted and feels cheap.
A Wasted Ellen Burstyn
The trailers for this movie show plenty of Ellen Burstyn returning as Chris Macneil to help save the day. There is a recent trope of characters from original films returning and being strong badasses. Doesn’t anyone just move on and live a happy life? That would be really nice actually.
Bringing back Chris Macneil doesn’t really make sense to begin with. They call her for help but she didn’t really do anything in the original film to help. She isn’t a part of the original Exorcism and we are supposed to believe she will be our savior?
I won’t be spoiling anything but I will say be careful not to use the bathroom or blink because you might miss Ellen Burstyn. She is a great actress but she in this movie is simply to sell tickets because the way she is weaved in doesn’t even make sense.
In all honesty, this didn’t even have to be related to The Exorcist, because besides Chris Macneil there is virtually nothing whatsoever that would imply that this is a sequel.
There are way worse movies than Exorcist: Believer but for one of the biggest horror films of the year, this is highly disappointing. The performances are great but they aren’t enough to recommend the film. The direction is sloppy, the scares are just about obsolete and there isn’t much new here that would be memorable. When the movie wants to scare you, it turns the audio up. Not a scary or well-made film. Just a loud one. This is supposed to be the first of a new trilogy and as for right now, there isn’t too much to look forward to.