Coming to theatres this Friday from director David Gordon Green, Blumhouse and Universal Pictures is preparing for Halloween with THE EXORCIST: Believer.
Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.) and pregnant wife Sorenne (Tracey Graves) are visiting Haiti and spending time photographing the sites. Sorenne meets a group of women that bless her but not before an earthquake hits and sending everyone reeling.
Years have passed and Victor is raising daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett) as a single father. They have a special relationship but Angela wants to know about her mother. Off to school, she meets up with friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum) who are making plans after school. Fibbing to their parents about where they really are, the girls find a spot in the forest and try to reach Angela’s mother spiritually.
When Victor gets home, Angela is not anywhere to be found. He reaches out to Katherine’s parents mom Miranda (Jennifer Nettles) and Tony (Norbet Leo Butz). Everyone becomes frantic as law enforcement spread far and wide looking for the girls in the forest. Friend Stuart (Danny McCarthy) even calls in some spiritualists to seek out Angela with Dr. Beehibe (Okwui Okpokwasili) which sends Victor into a tizzy.
Days later, the girls are found and neighbor Ann (Ann Dowd) who works at the hospital as a nurse sees to Angela. The girls are in shock and when cleared by the police go home but they don’t stay there as something peculiar is happening to them. As things become progressively worse for the girls, Ann tells Victor that he needs to speak to the one person who might be able to help – Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn).
Fifty years prior, her own daughter Regan became possessed and Victor feels as if there is something she can do to help. The girls have become dangerous and Victor decides that it is time to take matters into his own hands. Bringing together Katherine’s parents, Dr. Beehibe, Stuart, Pastor Revans (Raphael Sbarge) and Father Maddox from the Catholic church under one roof, it is time to call out the evil!
Odom Jr. as Victor is a father who is still mourning his wife while trying to raise an awesome daughter. When things start to become strange, he has decisions to make and the evil knows how to use his emotions against him. Odom Jr. is fine in the role but there isn’t anything extraordinary about it. He is on the ball playing Victor and there is that.
Jewett as Angela is a young girl who just wants to know more about her mother. In doing so, the spiritual door is open and chaos happens to all. Jewett gets a chance to go from sweet to evil kid and it works. Marcum as Katherine does not get as much screen time as Angela but when she does, it is all about ‘the body and the blood’ because if I had been in church, I think I’d have run out the door!
Dowd as Ann the nurse and picky next-door neighbor is the person who knows that Victor needs the advice of Chris MacNeil. I have been a long-time follower of Dowd’s career because she has the same amazing ability as Burstyn to play such diverse roles from the empathetic to the out-and-out twisted. An example of it is her complexity in character can be seen in the 2017 series THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Dowd played the role of Aunt Lydia Clements and absolutely dominated that character and, of course, we loved to hate her!
Nettles as Miranda is a mother who is going to do whatever it takes to help her daughter, even if it goes against her husband and their church. Watching her agree with Victor, to me, was the high point of her role. Butz as Tony is a man who just can’t deal with everything that is happening because it is far beyond his comprehension. Butz’s character wants to go along to get along but, in the end, he makes decisions based solely on fear.
McCarthy as Stuart is a supportive friend and is not about to let Victor go through this alone. Sbarge as Pastor Revans sort of believes what is happening but until he sees it for himself, it is then when he realizes his faith has to be enough to help. Okpokwasili as Dr. Beehibe brings her belief system as well and helps set up the battle that is to come.
Shout out to Ellen Burstyn because I have always admired her. To come back is amazing and I was all in. That being said, I did not like the way her character was basically used to hold up the story the film was trying to tell. Her original 1973 role was so stunning on the screen and I’m holding on to that!
Other cast include Antoni Corone as Father Phillips, Chandu Kanuri as Daniel, Norah Murphy as Hannah, Linda Boston as Principle and Richard Carr III as the Doctor.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
Blumhouse Productions is known for producing horror films such as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, INSIDIOUS, SINISTER, THE PURGE, THE GIFT, GET OUT, HAPPY DEATH DAY and SPLIT. The films from Blumhouse have become instant classics and they continue to give us something to scream about! See more at www.blumhouse.com
Okay, I’m sure this isn’t going to go over well but, quite honestly, I was not impressed by the film from beginning to end. There was basically no reason for any of it – it’s a possession and there is nothing new, original or scary anymore about that storyline. Using two girls in the film didn’t make anything about it better.
Starting out in Haiti reminded me of the 1977 EXORCIST II: The Heretic and the storyline of the boy Kokumo in Africa and the demon Pazuzu. Then. bringing in Chris MacNeil to do what? Without giving anything away, my reaction is ‘really?’ You can’t have one outstanding solid rock to hold up a sand house. Now, an updated Chris MacNeil story made more sense to me and would have totally been an AMAZING film potentially that I would love to have seen! Can you imagine it? I can!
The problem with possession films is that there is nothing new – it’s possession, an evil unnamed demon and casting out – done. The 1973 William Friedkin THE EXORCIST film set a high standard for frightening audiences that is unmatched in story and horror on a whole other level that has not been repeatable in the last 50 years. But hey, don’t let me stop you!
In the end – the evil is back!