The Exorcist: Believer Parent Guide
Stylistically competent, the film is narratively incoherent and contains gruesome demonically triggered violence.
Parent Movie Review
Even though her mom died giving birth to her, Angela (Lidya Jewitt) has believed she could hear her mother’s voice from time to time. With her friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum), Angela wanders off into the woods to perform a ritual in hopes of having a conversation with her dearly departed mom. Both girls mysteriously vanish without a trace.
Three days and a few search parties later, the girls are found barefoot in a barn, unaware that they’d been missing more than a few hours. The town is relieved, but the drama isn’t over. Angela’s dad, Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.) has noticed that she doesn’t seem quite right – staring off into space, talking to people who aren’t there, attacking him with a scarf… it’s the little things that let you know when something isn’t right with your teenager. The doctors can’t find anything wrong with Angela or Katherine, but their behavior continues to deteriorate. Victor has never been a religious man but he starts to wonder if there’s an explanation for what’s going on that won’t be found at the local hospital…
This film is stylistically competent, introducing some interesting digital effects and camera tricks, it falls flat in almost every other aspect. Leslie Odom Jr. is a capable actor, but he seems to spend most of the film with the same half-angry half-curious look on his face. More significantly, the actual substance of the plot is incoherent. None of the characters get a great resolution, and there are plot points that never get tidied up. The ending, while dramatic, feels unrelated to the rest of the story and doesn’t address any of what I perceived as the film’s major themes. Maybe the filmmakers just see it as an opportunity to lay some groundwork for a sequel, but I really wish they’d just try to make one good movie instead of making a mess out of two or three. Director David Gordon Green already ran into this problem with his adaptation of Halloween. The 2018 initial film was actually pretty good, but things went downhill from there. Rapidly.
The Exorcist: Believer has the usual assortment of negative content associated with the genre - depictions of violence and self-harm, profanity, and some drinking are the major flags. There are also a few crude sexual comments and a graphic reference to abortion. While the film isn’t for the young or squeamish, it’s not going to send terrified viewers running screaming out of the theater.
This chapter in the franchise manages to be the most theologically diverse film of the bunch, leaning more on the “It takes a village to exorcise a demon” approach. I like that we aren’t just falling into the classic trap for exorcist movies – writing Catholic fan-fiction – but this more ecumenical approach has other issues. The religious diversity is more interesting, but it means that no one in the film feels like a serious opponent for the demon. More to the point, this Christian plurality feels like church camp’s version of The Avengers and it means everyone gets less screen time and character development, and no one gets anything substantive done. This is diametrically opposite to the original Exorcist - an old priest and a young priest, one demon, one scared mother. That’s a full house already.
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Nettles, Ann Dowd. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release October 6, 2023. Updated October 5, 2023
The Exorcist: Believer
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Exorcist: Believer rated R? The Exorcist: Believer is rated R by the MPAA for some violent content, disturbing images, language and sexual references.
Violence: Two young girls are shown bearing self-inflicted injuries resulting from demonic possession, including cuts, bruises, and damaged or removed finger and toenails. People are injured or killed in an earthquake. A woman is stabbed repeatedly in the eyes. A character’s neck is fatally broken.
Sexual Content: There are several crude sexual remarks. There is brief breast nudity in a non-sexual context.
Profanity: There are five sexual expletives, and frequent use of mild curses and terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are briefly seen drinking, either socially or for stress management.
Page last updated October 5, 2023
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Other films about demonic possession include The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Pope’s Exorcist, The Possession of Hannah Grace, The Rite, Prey for the Devil, and Talk to Me. The Exorcist franchise currently includes The Exorcist (1973), Exorcist II: Heretic, The Exorcist III, Exorcist: The Beginning, and Dominion.