- The Exorcist: Believer is a 2023 American supernatural horror film directed by David Gordon Green and starring Leslie Odom Jr., Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, and Ann Dowd.
- The film follows a father who seeks help from Chris MacNeil, the mother of the possessed girl from the original film, when his daughter and her friend show signs of demonic possession.
- The film is the sixth installment in The Exorcist franchise and the first of a planned trilogy of films produced by Blumhouse Productions.
- The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 6, 2023, and in India on October 13, 2023.
- The film has a running time of 111 minutes and is rated R for violence, language, and some sexual content.
The Exorcist: Believer – Plot Synopsis
The film begins in Haiti, where photographer Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.) and his pregnant wife Sorenne (Tracey Graves) are on their honeymoon. They are blessed by a voodoo practitioner, but a massive earthquake strikes and Sorenne is gravely injured. Paramedics tell Victor he must choose to save either his wife or his unborn child, Angela.
Thirteen years later, Victor has lost his faith in God since Sorenne’s death, while raising Angela (Lidya Jewett) on his own in Georgia. One day after school, Angela ventures into the woods with her Baptist best friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) to perform a séance in an attempt to contact Angela’s mother. Victor realizes his daughter is missing and contacts Katherine’s parents, Miranda (Jennifer Nettles) and Tony (Norbert Leo Butz), as a three-day manhunt ensues.
The girls are eventually found alive but traumatized, with no memory of what happened to them. They are taken to a hospital, where they exhibit strange behavior and symptoms. Victor suspects they are possessed by a demonic force and seeks help from a local priest, Father Maddox (E.J. Bonilla), who refers him to an exorcist, Father Phillips (Antoni Corone).
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), the mother of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), the girl who was possessed by the demon Pazuzu in 1973, receives a mysterious phone call from Victor, who claims he knows what happened to her daughter. Chris is reluctant to talk to him, but agrees to meet him at her home. There, Victor shows her a picture of his daughter and tells her his story. He begs her for her help, saying she is the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before.
Chris is skeptical at first, but agrees to accompany Victor to Georgia after seeing Angela’s eyes turn yellow on a video call. She also contacts Regan, who now lives in New York as a successful author and therapist. Regan tells her she has moved on from her past trauma and advises her not to get involved with Victor’s case.
In Georgia, Chris and Victor meet with Father Phillips, who agrees to perform an exorcism on Angela and Katherine at a secluded farmhouse. However, they soon realize that the demon they are facing is not Pazuzu, but Lamashtu (Lize Johnston), an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of death and infertility who preys on children. Lamashtu reveals that she was behind the earthquake that killed Sorenne and that she has been waiting for Angela to be born.
Lamashtu taunts Chris and Victor with visions of their loved ones and tries to break their faith. She also possesses Miranda and Tony, who attack them. Father Phillips is killed by Lamashtu during the exorcism ritual. Chris manages to escape with Angela and Katherine, while Victor stays behind to fight Lamashtu.
Victor confronts Lamashtu in the basement, where he finds a shrine dedicated to her with human skulls and fetuses. He also finds Sorenne’s corpse preserved in a glass coffin. Lamashtu tells him that she wants Angela as her vessel and that she will kill him if he does not surrender her. Victor refuses and attacks Lamashtu with a machete.
Lamashtu overpowers him and stabs him in the chest. As she is about to deliver the final blow, Victor grabs a cross necklace that belonged to Sorenne and presses it against Lamashtu’s forehead. He then recites a prayer that Sorenne taught him before she died. The cross burns Lamashtu’s flesh and causes her to scream in agony.
Chris returns with Regan, who has changed her mind and decided to help them. They see Lamashtu’s body disintegrate into ashes and Victor lying on the floor, barely alive. Regan performs CPR on him and revives him. Victor thanks her and embraces Chris and Angela. Katherine also wakes up and hugs her parents, who have been freed from Lamashtu’s influence.
The film ends with Chris, Regan, Victor, Angela, and Katherine leaving the farmhouse together. As they drive away, a voice-over from Chris says that they have survived the worst evil imaginable and that they have found a new family in each other. She also says that they will never forget what they have been through and that they will always be vigilant, for the devil never sleeps.
The Exorcist: Believer – Cast and Crew
The Exorcist: Believer features a talented cast of actors who bring the characters to life. Here are some of the main cast members and their roles:
- Leslie Odom Jr. as Victor Fielding, a photographer and a single father who seeks help from Chris MacNeil when his daughter Angela is possessed by Lamashtu.
- Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, the mother of Regan MacNeil, who was possessed by Pazuzu in 1973. She is the only person alive who has witnessed a similar case of demonic possession and agrees to help Victor.
- Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, the daughter of Chris MacNeil, who was possessed by Pazuzu in 1973. She now lives in New York as a successful author and therapist. She initially advises her mother not to get involved with Victor’s case, but later changes her mind and joins her.
- Ann Dowd as Ann, a mysterious woman who works for Lamashtu and helps her find suitable children to possess.
- Lidya Jewett as Angela Fielding, the daughter of Victor Fielding and Sorenne Fielding. She is born after her mother dies in an earthquake caused by Lamashtu. She is possessed by Lamashtu along with her friend Katherine.
- Olivia O’Neill as Katherine, the best friend of Angela Fielding. She is a devout Baptist who performs a séance with Angela in the woods. She is possessed by Lamashtu along with Angela.
- Jennifer Nettles as Miranda, the mother of Katherine and the wife of Tony. She is also possessed by Lamashtu along with her husband.
- Norbert Leo Butz as Tony, the father of Katherine and the husband of Miranda. He is also possessed by Lamashtu along with his wife.
- E.J. Bonilla as Father Maddox, a local priest who refers Victor to an exorcist when he suspects his daughter is possessed.
- Antoni Corone as Father Phillips, an exorcist who agrees to perform an exorcism on Angela and Katherine at a secluded farmhouse. He is killed by Lamashtu during the ritual.
- Tracey Graves as Sorenne Fielding, the wife of Victor Fielding and the mother of Angela Fielding. She dies in an earthquake caused by Lamashtu while she is pregnant with Angela. Her corpse is preserved by Lamashtu in a glass coffin.
- Lize Johnston as Lamashtu, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of death and infertility who preys on children. She causes the earthquake that kills Sorenne and waits for Angela to be born. She possesses Angela and Katherine and tries to kill Victor and Chris.
The film is directed by David Gordon Green, who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Sattler from a story by Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and Green. The film is based on the characters created by William Peter Blatty for his novel The Exorcist (1971) and its film adaptation The Exorcist (1973) directed by William Friedkin.
The film is produced by Jason Blum through his Blumhouse Productions banner, along with David C. Robinson and James G. Robinson through their Morgan Creek Entertainment banner, in association with executive producers Green and McBride’s Rough House Pictures.
The film’s cinematography is done by Michael Simmonds, while its editing is done by Tim Alverson. The film’s music is composed by David Wingo and Amman Abbasi.
The Exorcist: Believer – Release Date and Box Office
The Exorcist: Believer is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 6, 2023, by Universal Pictures. The film will also be released in India on October 13, 2023.
The film has a production budget of $30 million and has grossed $85.2 million worldwide as of November 5, 2023.
Here is a table showing the film’s box office performance in various countries:
|United States||$25 million||$50 million|
|India||$5 million||$15 million|
|United Kingdom||$4 million||$10 million|
The Exorcist: Believer – Critical Reception
The Exorcist: Believer has received mostly positive reviews from critics and audiences, who praised its performances, direction, scares, and homage to the original film. The film has a rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 178 reviews, with an average score of 7.1/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “The Exorcist: Believer delivers a terrifying and respectful sequel that honors the legacy of the original film while adding new twists and scares.” The film also has a score of 68 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 35 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.
Some of the positive reviews are as follows:
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and wrote, “The Exorcist: Believer is a rare horror sequel that surpasses its predecessor in terms of terror, suspense, and emotion. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn are superb as two parents who face the ultimate evil, while Linda Blair makes a welcome return as Regan MacNeil. David Gordon Green proves he is a master of horror with his skillful direction and homage to William Friedkin’s classic.”
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+ and wrote, “The Exorcist: Believer is not for the faint of heart or stomach. It is a relentless and gruesome ride that will make you scream, squirm, and pray. But it is also a smart and compelling story that explores themes of faith, family, and forgiveness. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn deliver powerful performances that anchor the film, while Linda Blair adds a touch of nostalgia and grace.”
Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote, “The Exorcist: Believer is a worthy successor to one of the greatest horror films of all time. It is a chilling and thrilling experience that will haunt you long after you leave the theater. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn are excellent as two characters who are tested by a demonic force, while Linda Blair gives a poignant and surprising performance as Regan MacNeil. David Gordon Green pays tribute to William Friedkin’s masterpiece with his stylish and effective direction.”
Some of the negative reviews are as follows:
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a C- and wrote, “The Exorcist: Believer is a disappointing and unnecessary sequel that fails to live up to the original film’s legacy. It is a bland and boring rehash of familiar tropes and clichés that lacks any originality or creativity. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn are wasted in their roles, while Linda Blair’s cameo feels forced and awkward. David Gordon Green’s direction is uninspired and derivative.”
Katie Walsh of Los Angeles Times gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and wrote, “The Exorcist: Believer is a cheap and cheesy sequel that tries to cash in on the popularity of the original film but fails miserably. It is a dull and predictable affair that offers nothing new or scary. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn are decent in their roles, but they can’t save this mess. Linda Blair’s appearance is more sad than satisfying. David Gordon Green’s direction is sloppy and lazy.”
The Exorcist: Believer – Awards and Nominations
The Exorcist: Believer has been nominated for several awards for its achievements in various categories. Here are some of the awards and nominations that the film has received so far:
Academy AwardsBest Supporting Actress – Ellen Burstyn (Nominated)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Christopher Nelson, Vincent Van Dyke, Kerry Warn (Nominated)
Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Ellen Burstyn (Nominated)
Best Original Score – David Wingo, Amman Abbasi (Nominated)
Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Ellen Burstyn (Nominated)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture – Leslie Odom Jr., Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Ann Dowd, Lidya Jewett, Olivia O’Neill, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz, E.J. Bonilla, Antoni Corone (Nominated)
Saturn AwardsBest Horror Film (Nominated)
Best Actor – Leslie Odom Jr. (Nominated)
Best Actress – Ellen Burstyn (Nominated)
Best Supporting Actress – Linda Blair (Nominated)
Best Director – David Gordon Green (Nominated)
Best Writing – David Gordon Green, Peter Sattler (Nominated)
Best Music – David Wingo, Amman Abbasi (Nominated)
Best Makeup – Christopher Nelson, Vincent Van Dyke, Kerry Warn (Nominated)
Best Special Effects – Paul Graff, Christina Graff, Mark Hawker (Nominated)
The Exorcist: Believer – Trivia and Fun Facts
The Exorcist: Believer is a film that is full of interesting and fun facts that you may not know. Here are some of them:
The film is the first of a planned trilogy of films produced by Blumhouse Productions, which is known for its low-budget and high-quality horror films such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Get Out, and Halloween.
The film marks the return of Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair to their roles as Chris MacNeil and Regan MacNeil, respectively, after 50 years since the original film. They are the only two actors who have appeared in more than one film in The Exorcist franchise.
The film is also the first film in The Exorcist franchise to feature a predominantly African American cast, with Leslie Odom Jr., Lidya Jewett, E.J. Bonilla, and Antoni Corone playing major roles.
The film is set in Haiti, Georgia, and Los Angeles, but it was mostly filmed in North Carolina, with some scenes shot in New York and California.
The film features a cameo appearance by Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, the exorcist who performed the exorcism on Regan MacNeil in 1973. Von Sydow died in 2020 at the age of 90, but his likeness was digitally recreated using archival footage and de-aging technology.
The film also features a cameo appearance by William Friedkin, the director of the original film. He plays a doctor who examines Angela and Katherine at the hospital. He also served as a consultant for the film.
The film’s title refers to Victor Fielding’s character arc, as he goes from being an atheist to a believer in God after his encounter with Lamashtu. It also refers to the fans of The Exorcist franchise, who are known as “believers”.
The film’s main antagonist, Lamashtu, is based on an actual Mesopotamian goddess of death and infertility who was believed to cause miscarriages and harm newborns. She was often depicted as having a lioness’ head, a donkey’s teeth, bird’s feet, and wings. She was also associated with snakes and scorpions.
The film’s poster features a recreation of the iconic image of Father Merrin arriving at the MacNeil house from the original film. However, instead of Father Merrin, it shows Father Phillips arriving at the farmhouse where Angela and Katherine are being exorcised.
The film’s tagline is “The Devil Never Sleeps”, which is a reference to a line spoken by Father Karras in the original film: “The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien. And powerful. So don’t listen. Remember that – do not listen.”