The Exorcist: Believer15¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
Despite carving out a credible career path in comedy, creating highly entertaining shows such as Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals and The Righteous Gemstones, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green have also shown a love for horror, rebooting as they have the Halloween franchise.
Unfortunately, every entry was dreadful, and really shouldn’t have seen the light of day.
They say that God loves a trier, perhaps that’s something he shares with his darker counterpart too, with the duo now embracing another classic horror franchise in The Exorcist.
Bringing up his 13-year-old daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett), on his own in Georgia, is Victor (Leslie Odon Jr.). It’s been difficult for the pair, since Angela’s mother died in childbirth, when the couple were visiting Haiti.
One day Angela asks her father if it would be OK for her to go over to a friend’s house after school, which he agrees to, as long as she’s back in time for dinner.
So when she isn’t back when she said she would be, the alarm bells start to ring. And it turns out with good reason, as Angela and her friend are discovered a few days later in the woods. After a number of tests however, they are deemed physically unharmed, but the pair seem to have been affected by the ordeal. And as both families soon realise, more than they could possibly imagine, as both girls clearly aren’t themselves.
Ignoring the four following sequels, as most people quite rightly did, 1973’s The Exorcist, is still considered to this day to be not only one of the best horrors, but one of the greatest films of all time.
A direct sequel then is some challenge, and one that director Green and producer McBride get so wrong – yet again.
Unfortunately the story lacks impact and clarity. For instance, when the girls disappear into the woods, there is no indication whatsoever of what they encountered. It must have been something pretty incredible for the pair to behave the way they subsequently do, but that could possibly be a reaction to an inappropriate hand puppet that crossed their path, who’s to say. Not the script, that’s for sure.
And the fact that it happens to two girls at once, although initially interesting, presumably with the rationale of two characters meaning twice as many scares can be had behind it, it does come across as somewhat of a lazy first thought and lacks the kind of impact needed.
There’s some good news in that Ellen Burstyn returns to reprise her role as Chris MacNeil, but her appearance is no more than a token gesture, and sadly nothing more substantial. Which is how the film feels overall, with very little there, relying on the legacy of the original to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
There is a no doubt Green shows some respect to the source material – perhaps even too much - and certainly the first time that Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells is hinted at is quite a spine-chilling moment, but there just isn’t enough originality on display to make this a worthy sequel in any way.
Certainly Burstyn’s return was a missed opportunity, particularly when this was the first time that she has returned to revisit the role; there was a chance to not only remain faithful to the original, but take it in a new direction, which was unbelievably ignored.
There is an old adage of sticking to what you know, and it just feels now, after two failed attempts at resuscitating two different horror franchises, for Green and McBride to do just that.