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The Exorcist Returns, Don't Be Scared

October 3rd, 2023The Exorcist Returns, Don't Be Scared


In the eyes of many, there are few horror films as viscerally frightening, emotionally unsettling, and – above all – thoroughly absorbing and enduringly thought-provoking as THE EXORCIST. For half a century, director William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s book has led a stunning legacy of fear that is about to continue with the release of one of the most anticipated 2023 horror movies, THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER.

The original classic – which, arguably, was the originator of an entire subgenre of demonic possession films when it was first released in 1973 – has already inspired two sequels, two prequels, and even a short-lived television show. Yet, this new follow-up is about to change everything you know about the franchise by ignoring the events of those installments. To learn more about this legacy sequel, and also why THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER has been chosen for AMC’s Thrills and Chills program, take a look at this SPOILER-FREE breakdown of what to expect. Perhaps it will make a believer out of you, too.

A New Possession Tale

Much like most of the traditional demonic possession films that it preceded, THE EXORCIST, focuses on one girl named Regan MacNeil – played by a then-14-year-old Linda Blair in an Academy Award®-nominated performance – who falls to the mercy of a pair of priests when a malevolent, demonic entity uses her as a vessel to our world. However, one major way that THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER is going against tradition is by following not one young victim of demonic possession, but two.

The terror starts when a young girl named Angela and her best friend, Katherine, get lost in the woods. They return seemingly safe and sound, but begin to exhibit behavior that is not only completely out of character, but defies explanation. As Angela’s father, Victor, grows increasingly desperate to help these girls, he turns to one of the few other people who have been in his shoes before: Regan MacNeil’s mother, Chris.

Ellen Burstyn Returns

Starring as Chris MacNeil in THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER is, indeed, the woman who originated the role to Academy Award-nominated acclaim, Ellen Burstyn. While this marks the first time she is returning to the franchise since the original, she has delved into horror a number of other times in between – such as with the role of Sister Summersisle in 2006’s THE WICKER MAN and with another Oscar®-nominated performance in Darren Aronofsky’s REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, which is an unsettling enough experience to count. She has also received four other nods from the Academy, earning the statuette for playing the title role of Martin Scorsese’s ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

Seeking Chris’ guidance as Victor is GLASS ONION star Leslie Odom Jr. – a fellow Academy Award nominee for his performance as Sam Cooke in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… and for writing the song “Speak Now” with Sam Ashman for the Amazon Original drama. Playing Victor’s daughter, Angela, is Lidya Jewett, who has already achieved an impressive career that includes playing a younger Katherine G. Johnson in 2016’s HIDDEN FIGURES, and also Nakia’s younger self in 2018’s BLACK PANTHER. Meanwhile, Angela’s best friend, Katherine, is played by Olivia Marcum.

David Gordon Green Directs

As we mentioned above, THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER is a legacy “requel,” if you will, that chooses not to acknowledge the subsequent installments that came before it and act as a direct continuation of the one that started it all. This is the second time an iconic horror movie franchise has been served such treatment by this new film’s director, David Gordon Green, who previously brought Michael Myers back from the dead with 2018’s HALLOWEEN, which he followed with HALLOWEEN KILLS and HALLOWEEN ENDS in 2021 and 2022.

Speaking of which, Green collaborated on those slasher movie reboots with Danny McBride, who also helped him co-write the screen story for THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER with Scott Teems. Green’s co-screenwriter on this new possession thriller is Peter Sattler, who is also known for writing and directing the 2014 war drama, CAMP X-RAY.

One of the most fascinating and, certainly, unsettling aspects of the EXORCIST franchise as a whole is the idea that evil itself is a living entity that, if we are not careful, can literally consume us from the inside. That theme is explored in distinct detail in the trailer for THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER, which also teases a few moments that fans of the original should find interesting. See for yourself by checking out the full clip below:

[Insert Trailer here]

The trailer begins with Burstyn as Chris MacNeil confronting the possessed Katherine, whom she claims to have met before in reference to the demon that took over her daughter called Pazuzu. It appears that Katherine is possessed by the same entity from the way it calls out Regan by name. What follows is a montage of all the most blood-curdling, stomach-churning carnage we are expected to witness in the sequel, capped off by the unmistakable theme song from the original: Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.”

This is the only beginning. THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER planned to be the first of a new trilogy of terror, with the next installment set to to be called THE EXORCIST: DECEIVER. See how this chapter compares to the original when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!


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