Review – The Exorcist: Believer (2023)

Let me preface this by saying, I am the one person on planet Earth who loves Exorcist II – The Heretic.  Actually, I’ll get that out of the way.  I don’t think any other Exorcist film was mentioned or a single nod to anything other than the original film.  But it’s ok, because it didn’t feel like any of them would be discounted.  I’m not a fan of sequel skipping as in David Gordon Green’s Halloween series.  Although, that made sense.

I’ve been a long standing Exorcist fan.  I’m not a rabid fan who knows every little detail of everything about the movie or book.  I saw the film when I was a teenager in the 1990s and knew I was watching a masterpiece in not only horror, filmmaking.  My mom, who grew up in the 1970s had the opportunity to see the Exorcist at the age of 14, in the theater.  No she didn’t puke or collapse because of the power of Christ.  No, she was a fan of horror and while the film terrified her, she, like me was intrigued by The Exorcist.

When I learned David Gordon Green was directing a new sequel, my number one worry was skipping over the Heretic and the fantastic Exorcist III.  I didn’t worry like those who seem to hate Green’s Halloween efforts, he is a good and capable director.  My biggest worry came from a friend, Seth Miller.  He mentioned one of writers, Scott Teems.  Seth is no fan of his work.  But as the trailers came out, I was more excited.  There is no comparison, this is never going to live up to the 1973 legendary film that is William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.  No one should expect that at all.

The Exorcist: Believer left me wanting…I think there are things that could be explored further that are barely touched on and potentially give make this movie weaker.  But, I’ll save that for spoiler time.


When two girls disappear into the woods and return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, the father of one girl seeks out Chris MacNeil, who’s been forever altered by what happened to her daughter fifty years ago.

The movie has a decently strong cast.  Leslie Odom Jr carries the entire film on his shoulders and he does a great job.  When we meet his character, Victor Fielding, he is in Haiti working as a photographer and we see flashes of dogs fighting and culture of Haiti that reminds me of Father Merrin in Iraq.  Green kind of channels William Friedkin in his directing style and scene choice.  This was very cool, but it’s followed up by a disaster when a major Earthquake happens and Victor’s wife, who is pregnant nearly dies.  He has to choose between his wife’s life and the life of his unborn child.

The film then moves to Georgia and we meet Victor 13 years later and his daughter Angela played by Lidya Jewett.  The character building here is key, we see the father/daughter dynamic which is very strong and plays key later in the film.  He takes her to school where we meet the other girl, Katherine(Olivia O’neill) and her chaotic family.  So we see the difference in family life of the two, which seemingly plays a part, later.

I really loved the set up to the event if the girls going missing.  The search party scenes were good and I really liked how different Victor was to the highly religious family of Katherine.  Oh and I assumed the families knew each other, they don’t and it leads to some interesting conflicts.

Here are where the movie really does good work, character development.  The first hour is spent on developing the families and kind of developing the girls.  Which also leads to kind of a failure of sorts.  Why should we care about these girls, we barely get to know them, where in the original, yes I know, can’t touch the original, we get to know Regan very well.

When the girls are found, they’re overly tested, which does make sense, but seeing this isn’t something I would have done.  They begin to show signs of possession and the nosey neighbor Paula(Ann Dowd) mentions Chris McNeil and Victor brings her into the story.  Chris isn’t handled the best, but it wasn’t what I expected.  Ellen Burstyn is 90 and I don’t know what people expected.  I say it was enjoyable seeing her again and hearing the name “Regan”.  I don’t know how necessary it was to have her in the film.

The Exorcism is the highlight and I don’t want to spoil anything about it, but I liked it. They explored more than the Catholic right of Exorcism which was cool. The girls, Lidya and Olivia shared a powerhouse performance. They were amazing while possessed, of course their voices were hardly used, but it was more about their physical performance. The expressions on their faces told everything. I also have to mention the make-up job on both girls, leaving them looking completely terrifying.

The resolution of the Exorcism was a bit disappointing and you 100% knew what was going to happen. This is where I wish they would have explored more. I can’t say without spoiling the film, but I hope when Deciever is released we see more of…what I’m doing a bad job explaining.

The Exorcist: Believer will never live up to the original film and leaves me with more questions than answers. But we do have a sequel coming. I think, overall, I like Believer. It’s easily the third best movie of the now 6 movie franchise.

I do not think Believet deserves a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes at all. That institution really just is becoming more and more meaningless by the day. Just like the old days, if a movie intrigues you or piqued your interest, go see it. Don’t let the assholes that review films make you predetermined if you’re going to like the film.

My initial score is 62% which isn’t high. But the movie has been on my mind since I saw it and Believer is sticking with me. The more I think about it, the more I like The Exorcist: Believer.

Go see it. The very end made me happy and gave me a bit of the feels.
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About Ray Marek III 699 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)