Year of Release2023
DirectorDavid Gordon Green
StarringEllen Burstyn

I thought I’d treat myself to a little “Pre-Halloween” entertainment and take myself to movies to watch The Exorcist Believer. It had been a while since I’d been out to the cinema, I’m not even sure I’ve been post-Covid if we’re being honest. But this was as good as a reason as any to head on out, so why not?


The Exorcist Believer is basically set in the modern day, fifty years after the events of the first harrowing film. The story revolves around a father, Victor and his daughter, Angela. As a pre-story the mother of this child did not fare well in the pregneancy and during labor fell very unwell. Her partner, Victor had to choose to either save the wife or the child. The film then cuts back into modern day with his daughter now a young teenager. A similar age to what Regan would have been in the first film.

One afternoon after school Angela and a friend decide to mess around with some low level occult stuff in a bid to contact her mother. This is, of course school-girl level occult stuff, an innocent bid to get in touch with the mother that Angela never knew. They pair head into a forest where they find an abandoned bunker of some sort. After the girls attempt to reach Angela’s mother they end up spending 3 days in the forest. After a lengthy search by the towns folks the girls re-appear with no recollection of what happened in their 3 day absence.

The girls are checked out thoroughly by police and hospital staff for evidence of foul play but no evidence of anything more that the standard injuries one would face from being exposed to the elements for 3 days are present. After the girls return to their parents, things start to get a little strange. Both Victor and the deeply religious parents of the other girl begin to suspect the girls my have been possessed or infected by a malevolent spirit.

As things start to degenerate, a concerned neighbour passes on the contact for Chris McNeill (you may remember Reagan’s mum from the original film) who’s spent the last 50 years researching the rites of exorcism in various cultures. She is called in to help with the child but ends up being put out of action in a very messy fashion (I won’t share the details here). So now it’s up to the neighbourhood priest and the parents and a couple of well wishers to attempt to rid the young children of their demons. Obviously, I won’t tell you how it ends, so go check out the film!


There are some really cool touches in this film, the return of Ellen Burstyn being the main one. It gave it an air of authenticity or credibility. I found it tied this in with the original nicely. The movie is well produced and a great watch from start to finish. The main problem this film will face is that it is following on from a cornerstone of the horror genre. The eternal question, “Is it as good as the original?” Will always be asked. No. No, it isn’t as good as the original. Not to say it’s a bad film. It’s in fact pretty good. It just isn’t as good as the first one. Whilst sitting in the theatre I found myself wondering what made the first one so good. I think I have figured it out.

What made the original Exorcist film so Enduring?

I’m going to put this down to a few factors:

Author William Peter Blatty

The story for the first film was written by William Peter Blatty. Blatty had the combination of having grown up in a religious household and studied at a Jesuit (religious order) College. It’s safe to say he and a deep understanding of religion and what could get under people’s skin. Furthermore to this he’d served in the US defence forces in the “Psychological Warfare” division. He knew a lot about the deeper aspects of religion and how to use this fear religion invokes as well. Truely the man to write a novel that was capable of such deep disturbances. I’m not sure of any past credentials of the writers of The Exorcist believer but unless they match up to Blatty’s, they wouldn’t hold a “Snowballs chance in hell” of coming up with something as pyschologically and spiritually disturbing as the original Exorcist movie.

Religion in Society

As far as the effect of the film on audiences part of the reaction would have been due to deep held religious beleifs of society in general at the time. The film cut at the hearts and beliefs of Christians. I do believe that’s an advantage that can’t be replicated in a world that now (for the greater good) views religion as more of an afterthought than a way of life.

General offensiveness

The Exorcist contained some rather blasphemous material, and some rather top shelf gore for the time. Something that although I wasn’t born when the movie first came out, was still considered to be an extremity of modern cinema when I was an adult 25 years later. I could only imagine the offensiveness factor being even more over the top at the time. Honestly I can’t think of any mainstream film that came close to this for that offensiveness factor at the time. One would have to go trawling deep into the film underground to find even a couple of films that never really popped out of obscurity that would rival it, such as “Bloodsucking Freaks” which nobody really saw at the time anyway.

Criticisms of the film

My only real criticisms of the film is that there were a few moments where things felt a little preachy. The original film gave no fucks. Here we have a situation where the varying religious faiths of the neighbourhood, we have catholics, some voodoo type chick and those singy, dancy type religious nuts all get together to fight evil. We all know different religions are far to fragmented and bigoted to ever work together for a common good. (did I slip into an alternate Disney type universe where religions of different faiths and colours actually work toegether?). Hmm, these neighbourhood folk are basically simps, this made it feel even more unrealistic. I don’t feel there’s any universe in which these people could cast out the great and ancient evil that is Pazuzu. At least with the original film I could buy into the premise the priests were to some degree qualified to fight evil such as this.

Despite my above criticisms, I thought this new film was pretty cool. It’s a cool enough film but not legendary in the way the first one was. I would however, still give this one a recommendation to go see!

SEE ALSO: The Exorcist | 2 | 3 | Exorcist the Beginning

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