‘The Exorcist: Believer’ Review: Double Possession, Half the Fun | ET REALITY

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Half a century ago, the great William Friedkin directed “The Exorcist,” breaking box office records and wowing audiences. Now David Gordon Green, not content with exploiting the “Halloween” franchise for a trilogy of uneven follow-ups, has returned to suffer the same fate in one of the highest-grossing films of the 1970s. Beginning with “The Exorcist: Believer,” This latest recycling project will continue with “The Exorcist: Deceiver,” scheduled for 2025. Nothing is known about the third yet.

If your main complaint with the original was its concern with a single victim and the dogma of a single religious denomination, then this overcrowded sequel has you covered. Clearly believing that more is more, Green and Peter Sattler’s script (which ignores the franchise’s middle entries) gives us twice as many possessed people, more than three times as many beliefs, and plenty of enthusiastic exorcists. Keep them straight if you can.

Setup is quickly efficient. Thirteen years after losing his pregnant wife in an earthquake in Haiti, Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and his daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett), settle in Georgia. Aside from putting up with a grumpy neighbor (Ann Dowd) and her complaints about Victor’s handling of the trash can, the two seem pretty happy. Later, Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) head into the woods to make some spiritual arrangements and return three days later with blank memories and disturbing behavior. Bring the holy water!

Compared to the often mediocre standards of today’s glut of reboots and reimaginings, “Believer” is slickly professional and its young performers are more than up to the task. It is also disappointingly, though not surprisingly, cautious, pointing only weakly to the potent original weaving of puberty, religion, and bodily abuse. While no one is asking for lazy reruns of the infamous masturbation scene or that corkscrew head (although both are hinted at here), there are many ways for a filmmaker to carve such fertile thematic terrain. Instead, Green is content with inconsequential tweaks, such as changing the gender of the evil entity from the first film. What a shame if you assumed all demons were men.

Injecting a welcome touch of “that’s the way things are done” acting, Dowd (whose character will reveal hidden spiritual depths) and Ellen Burstyn (reprising her role as Chris MacNeil, the now-estranged mother of the original victim), allow the film to breathe. from time to time. Burstyn’s inclusion, however, is narratively clumsy, a feeble attempt to stoke the familiar pain that the new film fatally dilutes. Confining her to a hospital bed for much of the film, as Green did with Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween Kills” (2021), only underscores the dearth of new ideas in the film.

As for Green, his penchant for cinematic trios makes me nostalgic for his first three characteristicsall made before the age of 30 and one of which, “All the real girls” It won the Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2003 for its “emotional truth.” These dreamy, small-town reflections on love and survival, set among the ruined textile mills and deserted railroad tracks of the rural South, revealed a rare talent for identifying the drama of decline. That patience and sensitivity have now been sacrificed to the cannibalism of recycled ideas; and while I don’t envy him his success, I do miss the filmmaker he used to be.

The exorcist: believer
Rated R for blasphemous behavior and removable toenails. Duration: 2 hours 1 minute. On cinemas.

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