The Exorcist: Believer, Mark Kermode’s horror film review (video).

Our man of many movies, Mark Kermode, is here to bring you his film review of the original new horror production, The Exorcist: Believer. You can watch Mark’s take above, but what did we think of it here at SFcrowsnest Towers? Read on dear peeps.

This cinematic delight – or rather, ordeal – is presented under the rather grandiloquent title of “The Exorcist: Believer“. Directed by the versatile, or perhaps indecisive, David Gordon Green, and adorned with a cast featuring the reliable Leslie Odom Jr., the formidable Ann Dowd, and the venerable Ellen Burstyn (reprising her role, no less), one might expect a film of substantial gravity and unspeakable horrors.

However, this is where expectation makes a knave of us all.

Green’s foray into the horror genre – following his bewildering journey from indie darling to the commercial sanctuary of the rebooted “Halloween” franchise – might make the uninitiated think he’s got a firm grip on the wheel of horror. Yet, “The Exorcist: Believer” wobbles and weaves like a car with misaligned tires, providing a ride that is, frankly, uncomfortable and unsatisfying for those acquainted with the 1973 monumental classic.

With the towering shadow of the original “The Exorcist” looming large, “Believer” staggers under its weight, attempting to craft a narrative where desperate parents of demonically possessed girls seek the aid of Chris MacNeil, the mother who has seen it all before – or at least something vaguely similar. The plot takes our protagonist, Odom Jr.’s Victor Fielding, on a frantic odyssey after his daughter’s mysterious disappearance and subsequent return laden with signs of insidious possession. This prompts the reintroduction of Burstyn’s MacNeil in a narrative move that is as awkward as a giraffe on roller skates.

Despite Burstyn’s majestic presence, the script fumbles, making her iconic character seem like an afterthought rather than the linchpin she could have been. Instead, we get an assembled group of well-meaning but vaguely drawn characters, endeavoring to exorcise the devil with the script providing as much depth and clarity as a muddy puddle after a torrential downpour. In its feverish attempt to be a tale worthy of its predecessor, “Believer” flits between gravity and absurdity, with serious themes of grief and faith colliding clumsily with scenes of over-the-top demonic antics and unintentional hilarity. It’s a film caught in an identity crisis, neither a solemn meditation on evil nor a fully-embraced carnival of horror.

Yet, amidst its narrative chaos and tonal schizophrenia, The Exorcist: Believer does occasionally flicker with moments of intrigue and visual flair. The commitment of the young actors, particularly Lidya Jewett and debutante Olivia Marcum, and some striking imagery in the film’s chaotic climax, provide moments of respite in an otherwise confounding cinematic experience.

In essence, while “The Exorcist: Believer” might offer a serviceable night out for those seeking cheap thrills and demonic spills, it falls short of converting the uninitiated or pleasing the congregation of die-hard “Exorcist” aficionados. It is a film that, while competently made, lacks the soul and the chilling allure of the masterpiece that spawned its creation, making it a chapter that one might not rush to bookmark in the annals of horror cinema.

The Exorcist: Believer, Mark Kermode's horror film review (video).
The Exorcist: Believer, Mark Kermode’s horror film review (video).


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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