Revisiting the memorable story five decades after the original film shocked audiences, The Exorcist: Believer sees David Gordon Green helming this latest entry into the iconic franchise. Since its release in 1973, William Friedkin’s legendary film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel has managed to experience both major controversy and immense critical acclaim. The film has gained a devoted cult following and appears in countless lists highlighting the “scariest movies of all time.” There have been four movies released since the original, with The Exorcist: Believer marking the latest entry in 18 years following Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.
Here is a recap on everything you need to know about The Exorcist: Believer before heading to the theater.
What is the plot of The Exorcist: Believer?
Twelve years ago, a devastating earthquake in Haiti took the life of Victor Fielding's pregnant wife which left him to raise their daughter, Angela, on his own. When Angela and her friend Katherine mysteriously vanish in the woods, only to reappear three days later with no recollection of their experience, it sets off a series of events that compel Victor to confront the darkest depths of evil.
In his fear and desperation, he embarks on a quest to find the one person who has previously encountered something similar – a woman named Chris MacNeil. Chris’ daughter Regan experienced a horrifying possession fifty years beforehand at the command of a demon named Pazuzu and the pleas of Victor ultimately compel her to try to help in any way she can.
Who stars in The Exorcist: Believer?
Ellen Burstyn reprises her role as tormented mother, Chris MacNeil, from the 1973 film. Burstyn has not appeared in any Exorcist entry beyond the initial installment and her faith in the project may indicate the potential The Exorcist: Believer has to be a thrilling viewing experience.
In an interview with People, Green shed some light on how he managed to convince her to return despite the fact that she had previously been asked "dozens of times to step back into the franchise":
“... [W]hen she read the draft of the script and saw the intentions that I had, she realized that it kind of mirrored in some ways her journey on this earth post success of the film ‘The Exorcist’ — the world I'm trying to create with the Chris MacNeil character after the events in Georgetown... So there was a familiarity to it."
Leslie Odom Jr. stars as the heartbroken father desperate for answers named Victor Fielding. Odom Jr. and Burstyn are joined by Lidya Jewett who plays Victor's daughter Angela Fielding and Olivia Marcum makes her film debut portraying her friend Katherine. The supporting cast includes Ann Dowd as Ann, Jennifer Nettles as Miranda, Norbert Leo Butz as Tony, Okwui Okpokwasili as Dr. Beehibe, Raphael Sbarge as Don Revans and Danny McCarthy as Stuart.
Is The Exorcist: Believer a sequel?
The Exorcist: Believer serves as a direct sequel to 1973's The Exorcist. Despite there being other entries in the franchise along with a TV show, The Exorcist: Believer does not acknowledge any other Exorcist installments except for the original.
Green discussed exploring "multiple spiritual perspectives" in order to keep this 50 year old franchise fresh with The Wrap back in July. He mentioned how he "couldn’t wrap [his] head around a one-philosophy type of Exorcist movie" and that after examining how different religions handle their own respective possessions, the idea of synchronized possession came into play:
“My mind was blown and I started making phone calls and started talking to the quote, unquote experts because it’s a very unique subject matter and people have experienced things or claimed to have experienced things… And I just wanted to invite all these voices and stories and theories into my creative whirlpool.“
Who is the director of The Exorcist: Believer?
David Gordon Green directs The Exorcist: Believer. Green is best known for directing the previous Halloween reboot/sequel trilogy including 2018’s Halloween, Halloween Kills in 2021 and Halloween Ends the following year.
During an interview with Empire, he previously touched upon the delicate balance of honoring the "dramatic integrity" of William Friedkin's iconic work, while recognizing how the horror genre has undergone a major transformation over the last five decades:
”You have to acknowledge that there have been so many movies that are derivative copycats of ‘The Exorcist’. It has evolved as a concept, so making a slow-burn, dramatic, provocative, horrific film is different with today’s audience than it was 50 years ago.”
Green is undeniably a huge admirer of the franchise, with his dedication continuing through 2025 (and possibly beyond) with the sequel to The Exorcist: Believer in The Exorcist: Deceiver and a future untitled Exorcist film.
What is The Exorcist: Believer rated?
The Exorcist: Believer is rated R for some violent content, disturbing images, language and sexual references. The original film gained notoriety due to the extreme reactions that occurred at the theater including people fainting or vomiting in response to intense scenes like a lifelike cerebral angiography. It held the record for the highest-grossing R-rated horror film (without accounting for inflation) until the release of 2017’s It.
We cannot predict whether The Exorcist: Believer will garner the same reactions and admiration as the original. However, it is unfair to burden it with such high expectations. Our hope for the film is that it will include compelling scares, captivating characters and a chilling ambiance that makes for an eerie-sistable viewing experience.
The Exorcist: Believer will be released in theaters on October 6, 2023.