According to Cassian Elwes (just under 15K followers on X formerly known as Twitter) Universal paid $400-million for the rights to The Exorcist. Elwes is well known in Hollywood circles as a producer; his brother Cary played Wesley in The Princess Bride.
In the final analysis it isn’t that The Exorcist: Believer is some kind of bad film so much as it’s a film trying to wear a pair of shoes way too big for its ambition.
Universal leads the pack with horror films even over IFC and Shudder releases. Yet they seem to work best where the genre gets subverted, like this year’s Renfield or The Last Voyage of the Demeter.
The Exorcist: Believer would’ve been a far better picture if the references to the 1973 The Exorcist had been cast aside and the filmmakers explored the story behind two girls missing for three days and the unknown evil behind their maniacal behavior.
Like the original film there’s a lot of character development in the opening hour while the film proper eschews horror motifs. The most horrifying thing in the original film was a spinal tap being performed on Regan MacNeil. In this remake the hospital scene has the two pre-teen girls undergoing a rape test.
The third act becomes one of the most ridiculous exorcisms committed to film to date thus rendering the overall experience impotent.
Just make a generic exorcism film like recents outings starring Russell Crowe (The Pope’s Exorcist from earlier this year) and Anthony Hopkins (2011’s The Rite). Instead The Exorcist: Believer has to go there. You know, there to the original well. The water has run dry.
David Gordon Green is a good director and he’s diverse. Green’s helmed indie films, stoner films, and now studio horror franchises. If Green didn’t take the job a lesser director would’ve.
Spoilers ahead: Ellen Burstyn returns as Chris MacNeil and promptly gets stabbed in both eyes with a cross. One would think she was going to turn into Zatōichi the blind priest but instead she just screams a lot. It’s even more embarrassing the way Linda Blair is worked into the film. Linda Blair is no Jamie Lee Curtis and any further remakes trying to make Blair happen will not be pretty.
After her fame in The Exorcist Linda Blair was cast in more than a few exploitive television movies one of which was Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. Her boyfriend was played by a pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill. That’s the fucking film you need to sequel.