The Exorcist: Believer possesses a shocking horror

With Halloween just around the corner, students get ready with candy, costumes, and most importantly, horror movies. “The Exorcist: Believer” is the latest horror movie released on Oct. 6, 2023, and acts as an installment in The Exorcist series, starting with the 1973 original.

The movie tells the story of two teenage girls, Angela and Catherine, who disappear for three days after traveling into the woods to get in touch with the spirit of Angela’s dead mother. As panic arises in Angela’s father, Victor, and Catherine’s parents, Miranda and Tony, they call the cops and begin searching the woods for their missing daughters. When the girls are found in a barn 30 miles away from the woods with no recollection of time, they automatically resort to trauma responses as a cause. Victor takes Angela home in an effort to get her associated with reality but experiences many horrifying events in less than 24 hours that cause him to put her back into the hospital. Similarly, Catherine is taken to Sunday church the day after she is found. The viewers see her pulling out her hair and acting very childish while sitting in one of the pews with her two younger siblings. Once her parents go up to the Pastor to receive communion, Catherine disappears into the back to cover herself in communion. When Catherine’s parents meet with Victor at the hospital, Miranda is convinced their girls are possessed, but Victor doubts this idea due to his disbelief in religion. As the girls’ actions continue getting worse, Victor decides to send his daughter to a mental institution while Catherine’s parents decide to keep their daughter at home and attempt to ‘save’ her through prayer.

When Victor’s neighbor Ann, a local nurse at the hospital Angela attended, experiences Angela’s possession, she gives him a book written by the original mother, Chris, in the 1973 movie that explains possession. He notices that the phrase, “Help me” was sketched into Chris’ daughter’s stomach, just like it had been done to his daughter. This prompts him to believe in the act of demon possession and reach out to Chris to save his daughter. When Chris sees both Angela and Catherine for the first time, she automatically recognizes the demon from her own daughter’s experience. Since Chris has had a past with this satanic figure, Catherine’s possessed body stabs Chris in the eyes, causing her to go blind and limiting her ability to help remove the demon that possesses their daughters.
After much struggle, both families come together in order to perform multiple types of exorcisms that include religions such as Southern Baptism, Hoodoo, Christianity, Catholicism and Pentecostalism in order to save their daughters. As the exorcism continues, the demon that possesses both bodies tells the families to pick which daughter gets to live and which one has to die, but Victor and Miranda refuse to pick and continue trying to save their daughters. That’s when Victor grabs one of his wife’s old scarf and wraps it around Angela in an effort to bring his daughter back, causing Tony to realize his daughter might not be saved and shouts, “I pick Catherine!”, ruining their chances of saving both daughters. The families shortly find out that this was a trick and decide to kill Catherine and let Angela live instead. The movie ends with Angela attending school once more and Catherine’s parents grieving the death of their daughter.

This movie isn’t just an average demon possession movie. It connects multiple religions and ultimately shows how it really “takes a village” to stop evil. The director, David Gordon Green, takes this movie to a new level and subsides from the usual religions shown in demon possession movies, emphasizing how Green takes the universalizing approach. Throughout the movie, my main thought was how the inclusion of religion stretched past basic horror movies and incorporated many ways to save someone from evil.

Although this film did not outdo the original 1973 “Exorcist”, I was pleasantly surprised to have received goosebumps throughout the movie, and I even felt frozen during some scenes. In my personal opinion, the movie was well paced out, leaving no space for one to be bored and kept you truly locked in throughout the film. The cast did an excellent job enticing the viewers and creating many horrifying scenes. There were a few times where the CGI(computer-generated imagery) seemed a little unbelievable, but overall, Green and the actors did a wonderful job portraying this movie and adding another installment in The Exorcist realm.