David Gordon Green’s The Exorcist: Believer is a direct sequel to The Exorcist, thereby ignoring all the previous installments in the franchise, which is something that said installments have done as well. It follows the father-daughter duo of Victor and Angela Fielding, as well as Katherine, Miranda (Katherine’s father), Tony (Katherine’s father), and Katherine’s two siblings, as they become the victims of demonic possession. While Victor opts for psychiatric help, Miranda and Tony allege that there’s something supernatural going on. When Victor’s neighbor, Ann, suggests that Chris MacNeil has experienced something similar in the past, Victor randomly goes to her to get some pointers. And, of course, Chris convinces Victor to execute an exorcism. When Chris confronts the possessed Katherine, it becomes clear that the demon possessing the two kids is probably Pazuzu.
Before going into The Exorcist: Believer, I knew that Blumhouse Productions had already greenlit a trilogy, with the next one being The Exorcist: Deceiver. So, even though I wanted to care about the movie that I was watching, the question about the meaning of the title of the sequel kept rattling around in my brain. To Believer’s credit, it doesn’t wink at the audience throughout the film in regards to how it’s going to set up the sequel. It’s only when the exorcism reaches its final stages that Pazuzu starts to do what we call “sequel baiting.” Here’s what happens: Victor, Miranda, Katherine, Ann, Dr. Beehive, Don, and Stuart do everything that they possibly can to exorcize Angela and Katherine, and fail. But their resolve doesn’t waver, and they manage to fight as a unit against the forces of evil. So, in order to damage this coalition, Pazuzu gives them a horrible choice: the parents have to choose which girl is going to live and which girl is going to die. If they don’t choose, both of them are going to die.
There’s this moment where Victor looks at Miranda, and Miranda looks at Victor, and they both decide that they won’t give in to Pazuzu’s whims. Of course, that leads to more chaos. Father Maddox tries to salvage the situation by joining the exorcism, but his head gets snapped, and he dies. Victor makes a last-ditch attempt to remind Angela about her mother, but even that doesn’t work. So, purely out of desperation, Tony tells Pazuzu to save Katherine and kill Angela. However, much like what happened 13 years ago when Victor asked the doctors to save Sorenne and let Angela die, Pazuzu actually kills Katherine and lets Angela live. That’s when Pastor Don Revans says that they’ve been deceived by the devil, thereby setting up the stakes of the sequel, The Exorcist: Deceiver. David Gordon Green and his writers’ team love to deal with trauma. I mean, that’s what they did throughout his Halloween trilogy. That’s why it won’t be a stretch to say that the second film in this Exorcist trilogy is going to be all about the trauma of surviving the ordeal orchestrated by Pazuzu.
Let’s get a little specific. The secret that Victor chose Sorenne over Angela, and Angela miraculously survived, and Sorenne died, is out in the open. When a demon possesses someone, they usually forget about the details. So, it’s unclear if Angela remembers this truth about her life. But Victor knows. He must’ve spent 13 years trying to deal with the choice he made all those years ago, learned how to live with it, and focused on giving all his love to Angela. However, since that wound has been reopened, Victor has to start that process all over again. On top of that, if Angela knows that Victor didn’t want to save her when she was a fetus (yes, I get the anti-abortion allegations leveled against The Exorcist: Believer now), they are going to have a lot of awkward conversations. Tony has to live with his choice, which got Katherine killed. It’s unclear if Tony and Miranda are together anymore. I can totally see Miranda taking the children and leaving Tony. That said, if they choose to stay together, they’ll have to work through the guilt of making a rash decision to save Katherine.
Is Angela free? I don’t think so. Demons are vindictive and possessive. They just don’t leave their victims like that. So, maybe Pazuzu still has access to Angela, and he’ll torment her until she gives in. Her final shot in the film, where she looks into the distance, is suspicious. It is purposefully vague so that you can wonder if it’s a general glance or if she is actually looking at someone. Given that the name of the sequel is The Exorcist: Deceiver, I think we can speculate that Pazuzu is still inside Angela. He probably lied about leaving her, and Katherine’s death was for nothing. What about Ann? She gives a whole speech about humanity, and I don’t know if there’s anything more to explore in regards to her character. But since she’s played by Ann Dowd and the character is Victor’s neighbor, I think she’s going to stick around unless Victor leaves the town with his daughter. And finally, there’s Chris and Regan MacNeil. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of bringing back Chris only to get her eyes butchered. I mean, why would you do that? Now, Ellen Burstyn has to act with those weird bandages over her eyes. That’s so stupid and mean.
A lot of time has passed between The Exorcist and The Exorcist: Believer. So, I’m guessing that The Exorcist: Deceiver is going to bridge that gap with a load of unhealthy exposition. Even though it seems like Regan is happy to see Chris, they have to talk about the reason behind their estranged relationship, i.e., Chris’ book. Does Regan blame Chris? If so, how did she forgive her mother? Does Regan have a family? How do they go about their lives knowing about Regan’s past? That said, I can’t figure out how Chris and Regan are going to help any of the newer characters survive a demonic possession because they aren’t exorcists. They were helped by Father Merrin and Father Karras when Regan was possessed, and both of them are dead. However, even if the mother-daughter duo can’t come up with ways to fight Pazuzu, they can sure as hell suggest how to live life after enduring such a traumatic process. It’s safe to assume that word of Katherine’s death and Angela’s survival is going to spread through the town like wildfire, much like it did when Chris released the book about Regan’s possession. That’s going to attract a lot of unwanted attention, and Regan can help Angela ward off any evil thoughts.
The most important question is: am I excited for The Exorcist: Deceiver? No, I am not. I didn’t like The Exorcist: Believer. So, I am not looking forward to the stories set in this universe. But since Blumhouse has already greenlit the sequel, I guess I’ll watch it. I just hope that Deceiver is better than Believer. Anyway, enough about me. What about you? Did you like The Exorcist: Believer? What do you expect to see in the sequel? Please feel free to share your thoughts and theories.