GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER *
Directed by David Gordon Green.
tarring Leslie Odom Jr, Lidya Jewett, Ellen Burstyn.
'Horror, US, 115 minutes, certificate 15.
Released in cinemas in the UK on 6th October by Universal
Four hundred million dollars can get you a lot today. Many charities would benefit from such an abundance of cash, making the world a better place, even just a little bit. Or if you were the head of Universal, you could blow it all on the rights for THE EXORCIST, a franchise that has always struggled in numerous ways since the original film, one that still stands tall on the cinematic landscape, losing very none of its power to shock and disturb half a century on.
The exploitation of the IP, including streaming rights, franchise development and theme park attractions, all seem ill-suited for a series of films that deal with the weighty themes of faith, corruption, evil and the soul. To further prove that such an investment was ill-judged, the decision was made to announce a trilogy of films that would be helmed by David Gordon Green, a man whose previous imagining of a beloved horror property, HALLOWEEN, became more bizarre and ill-judged with each entry.
Green makes a decent fist of things in the film's early stages, giving the viewer a false hope that something can still be done with possession film tropes. A prologue sequence, kicking off with the familiar sight of dogs furiously fighting each other, set in Haiti, introduces Victor and his heavily pregnant wife, Sorenne. After an earthquake, Victor is forced to make an agonising choice, one that thirteen years later leaves him compelled always to keep a close eye on his daughter Angela. When Angela goes missing with her best friend Katherine, a manhunt is launched, only for the two girls to turn up three days later with no recollection of what happened when they were away. It becomes immediately apparent that something is wrong with the girl's behaviour. Victor is compelled to seek the help of Chris Macneill, a woman with experience with teenage girls acting problematically.
Any hope that Green could keep at least a competent hand on the themes and style that William Friedkin handled so impressively goes flying out the window faster than Damien Karras did. Notes of menacing ambiguity are replaced here by graceless instances of schlock that may pass muster elsewhere but are ill-suited to this series of films. Where Friedkin, and author of the original novel William Peter Blatty, who also helmed EXORCIST III, the only other good film in this saga, could make something as simple as a ticking clock stopping feel like the arrival of pure evil was imminent, Green over relies on overused tropes of quick flashes of demonic creatures, none of which come anywhere close to the still effective shock of the near-subliminal flashes of the demonic face in THE EXORCIST.
To compare with the original film would take far too long and state too much of the obvious. Sadly, it even fails to hold up to lighter-hearted fare such as this year's self-aware THE POPE’S EXORCIST, which at least offered us the sight of Russell Crowe zipping about on a scooter in full priest regalia. All we get here is a recycled package of more than familiar sights and anaemic shocks that fail to raise the hackles of its viewers in any way other than annoyance.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans