It’s a bold move to make a sequel to what’s generally regarded as one of the greatest horror movies ever made and having recently competed a Halloween trilogy writer director David Gordon Green turns his attention and makes Exorcist Believer a sequel to the original film that was made before he was even born.
Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr) and his heavily pregnant wife are holidaying in Haiti when a disastrous earthquake hits and she is caught in a collapsing building and is rescued only for Doctors to tell Victor that they can only save either his wife or the unborn child. They can’t save both and he has to make the choice. 13 years later back home in the US Victor is now raising his teenage daughter Angela (Ludya Jewett) on his own. Angela’s growing up to be a normal teenager with her friend Katherine ( Olivia )’Neill) whose own parents are devout Christians whereas Victor has lost any belief. But the parents are to soon find themselves realizing one of two fears of all parents of a teenage daughter when they both go missing – the other fear being that they start dating Russel Brand. Its three days later that the pair are found in a farmhouse barn 30 miles away with no memory of what has happened.
With police and hospital doctors carrying out their checks all seem OK. The 13 year old girls are moody, potty mouthed, aggressive and withdrawn, in other words perfectly normal teenagers but it’s enough for the parents have them committed but an incident with a ward nurse suggests that they are demonically possessed. It’s Victor, essentially an atheist, who calls in Christine MacNeil, mother of the possessed girl Regan in the original film. Estranged from Regan, Christine has spent the subsequent years studying exorcisms from all religions, faiths and beliefs and bizarrely now regards herself as an exorcist in one of the films many strange leaps of faith – it’s like Donald Trump believing he could be President because he once watched an episode of The West Wing. But despite all the signs of demonic possession with one character even noting the smell of sulphur. a sign that had us believing our Editor was possessed too until he told us he’d just had curried eggs for lunch. But with the Catholic church refusing to authorise any of their priests to conduct an exorcism the parents, in another twist of nonsense, seem content to let anyone have a go as the film leads to the showdown exorcism where they find that the two girls hearts beat as one and they must choose only one to survive and the other to be dragged to hell with the demon.
The Exorcist as much as it is regarded a horror film was also an exploration of faith with the two priests Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller) contemplation of what they are dealing with and the nature of good and evil. There’s little of that here with Ann Dowd’s nurse who almost became a nun dealing with the theology with another character bringing in a hint of voodoo that’s first glimpsed in the opening scenes and really this undermines the deeply catholic first film.
Exorcist Believer in fairness does approach its subject with solemnity to balance out its showdown exorcism but this is something of a variation and rehash of the first film and serves to underline that the original film, though still undeniably powerful, was something that had never been seen before and since then has been parodied to death that makes any modern day version difficult.
Related feature: Max Von Sydow obituary
Related feature : What happened to those steps in The Exorcist?
Here’s The Exorcist Believer trailer…….