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John Carpenter on The Exorcist: Believer: 'How do you screw that up?'
Photo: © ANP

John Carpenter on The Exorcist: Believer: 'How do you screw that up?'

John Carpenter on The Exorcist: Believer: 'How do you screw that up?'
Photo: © ANP

John Carpenter has no idea how David Gordon Green managed to "screw up" The Exorcist: Believer.

In August of 2020, it was announced that Morgan Creek Entertainment would produce a new Exorcist movie that would serve as a direct sequel to the 1973 original.

The Exorcist tells the story of a young girl, Regan, who is possessed by a demon and the impact the events have on her family as well as two priests who are recruited to help her.

It is widely regarded by many as a masterpiece and the greatest horror film of all time.

It takes a certain amount of bravery to make a new entry in the series following some poorly received follow-ups, but Green helmed the project that stars Leslie Odom Jr. and Ellen Burstyn, who reprises her role as Regan's mother from the original.

The Exorcist: Believer has been savaged by critics, with one calling it "unscary and soulless".

Carpenter, who is the creator of some of the greatest horror movies of all time including Halloween and The Thing, thinks it should have been easy to make a new, successful entry in The Exorcist franchise.

“I like what David did when he made the three ‘Halloweens'," the legendary director told The Los Angeles Times.

“I loved No. 2 (Halloween Kills). Thought that was fabulous. I heard The Exorcist really didn’t cut it. That could be a kick-ass movie. I don’t understand how you can screw that up.”

Carpenter would later admit that he hadn't seen the movie yet, but he planned to.

The Exorcist: Believer reviews

"What made The Exorcist so scary and enduring wasn't its concepts of faith or lack thereof but its authentic characters grappling with relatable issues as they venture further into the dark abyss of evil. Believer doesn't spend enough time with any of its characters and instead rushes through all the requisite beats of an Exorcist movie right until it fizzles. Its bold, cynical commentary and occasionally effective imagery get lost in the shuffle. Believer is handsomely shot, at least, but mostly, it's just unscary and soulless." - Bloody Disgusting.

"The Exorcist: Believer is a pretty good movie that's so stuffed with characters and not-quite-developed ideas that you may come away from it thinking about what it could have been instead... It's probably the first Exorcist sequel since 1977's fitfully brilliant Exorcist II: The Heretic to capture the persistent sense of the uncanny that made William Friedkin's first entry in the series a smash hit." - RogerEbert.com

"That watered-down version of an inspired horror theme is symptomatic of a movie that starts out full of promise but fumbles the material as the stakes get higher. It's no surprise that Believer is less effective than its venerable progenitor. That it's considerably less daring than a movie made half a century ago compounds the disappointment." - The Hollywood Reporter.

"Green’s strategy seemed simple: double everything. Double the possessions, double the visual effects, double the stakes. But more isn’t always better, particularly when following a film praised for its horrifying rawness and simplicity." - Sydney Morning Herald.

"An execrable film that's redeemed by almost nothing besides Leslie Odom Jr.'s well-modulated lead performance and the ambient sense of unease that Green casts over the story's first half, Believer is so creatively spineless and bereft of its own ideas that its entire concept of sacrilege is limited to imperilling its franchise's legacy. Perhaps that wouldn't be such a sticking point if Believer didn't also do such a lazy job of exhuming its franchise's legacy. Indeed, it's hard to think of a more damning self-own in any recent film than the scene in which the demons inside of Green's possessed tweens attempt to prove their unholiness by… repeating the exact same line of dialogue that riled audiences 50 years ago." - IndieWire.

The Exorcist: Believer
2.30 (146)

The Exorcist: Believer (2023)

A father discovers that his child is possessed by a demonic entity. Desperate, he searches for someone who has had a similar experience: Chris MacNeil. Fifty years ago, the same thing happened to her twelve-year-old daughter Regan. To get rid of the demon, Chris had to call on two priests.

Directed by: David Gordon Green
Stars: Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Dowd and Jennifer Nettles

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"In hindsight, The Exorcist: Believer poster I found tossed in a urinal in the movie theater bathroom before tonight's press screening was probably a bad omen. You might even call it a sign from God. And like so many of the foolish mortals in this new film, I failed to heed His warnings. For my sins, I was damned for the next 111 minutes... People routinely label Exorcist II: The Heretic as one of the worst sequels ever made, but at least that movie was going for something. Whatever its flaws, it had some ideas and it is never boring. The Exorcist: Believer commits that sin, and so many more." - ScreenCrush.

Some slightly more positive reviews...

"A silly, gloopy Halloween shocker that offers just about enough goofy entertainment for an undemanding fright night crowd. But it might be close to impossible for those with deep reverence for the original..." - The Guardian.

"Believer is a more conventional horror tale, with constant dread and eerie thrills: It's definitely haunting but lacks the first movie’s soulfulness. Sure, we didn’t need another Exorcist. And Green’s recent Halloween trilogy ended up fumbling a good start. With a formidable Believer and two more Exorcist movies in the pipeline, though, at least this franchise still has a prayer." - USA Today.

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