Director David Gordon Green was a reliable auteur through his 2018 Halloween reboot. I liked that first chapter of his Halloween revamp—but the final two chapters of his trilogy kind of sucked.
Despite how that trilogy ended, there were reasons to hold out some hope for Green. After all, the guy made Pineapple Express and has had a hand in some pretty good TV comedies like Eastbound and Down and The Righteous Gemstones. Heck, he’s even made some good dramas, like Prince Avalanche and All the Real Girls. Perhaps he could return to his roots and start making decent, original works again?
Nope. He’s stuck his face into another legacy horror property with The Exorcist: Believer, which is far and away the worst movie he has ever made, and a strong contender for the worst film of 2023. This is supposed to be the first in yet another trilogy, with the next chapter set for release 2025. Please, make it stop.
The movie isn’t quite two hours long, but it feels like a lifetime. Two girls (Lidya Jewett and Olivia O’Neill) go into the woods to perform some kind of innocent ritual involving one of their dead mothers, and they emerge days later behaving strangely. Before long, they are spitting out expletives, donning maniacal smiles and doing the whole possession thing.
The buildup to the actual exorcism of the two girls is a long, drawn-out, completely uninteresting stretch that needed a good editor’s cleaver to cut out, oh, perhaps half of it.
The exorcism itself consists of the two girls in a dark room bound in chairs and hooked up to medical equipment, courtesy of the next-door neighbor (Ann Dowd), who, on top of being in the medical field, was almost a nun, so she can step in and do an exorcism when a priest gets cold feet. What a remarkably convenient, all-in-one next-door neighbor to include in your remarkably unimpressive screenplay!
The exorcism is so bad—with religious nuts and bad parents blathering all sorts of hot garbage—that you may find yourself rooting for the demon. Ellen Burstyn, of the original, absolute classic Exorcist, shows up for a few scenes that manage to completely shame and embarrass the actress in their complete ineptitude.
Green needs to stop this nonsense. The first Halloween in his trilogy was fine work. OK, great; he conquered the horror genre, right then and there. But since then, he’s shat all over two beloved franchises—and we now know his wheelhouse is not rebooting legendary horror franchises. Green must exorcise the urge to keep doing this shit, and instead get back to making comedies and wispy dramas with Zooey Deschanel.
In case you’re curious, Danny McBride did have a hand in this (he also helped write the new Halloween trilogy), receiving a “screen story by” credit along with Green. I’m guessing he will roast himself somewhere down the line for his involvement in this travesty. He, and everybody else involved, should be ashamed of themselves.