This Blumhouse resurrection of the classic ’70s horror dutifully ticks off a bingo card’s worth of familiar features: an ancient curse imported from a dusty land? Check. A blast of Mike Oldfield? Tick. The projectile barfing of a pea soup-like substance by a small child? You bet your kitchen mop.
But just because it does Exorcist-y things doesn’t make David Gordon Green’s sorta-sequel an Exorcist movie. It never gets close to recreating the miasmic chill of William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, or generating any fresh frights of its own. Leslie Odom Jr’s suffering, atheist widower aside, the characters never get past one-dimensional, so their torments aren’t desperately involving – not in the way the MacNeils’ were in the original.
This sorta sequel is the thinnest of pea-green soup
What it does feel like is one of the director’s recent trilogy of Halloween films, whose intellectual ambition, to explore how small communities respond in extremis, gets lost in a blizzard of franchise tropes. Here, there’s another iconic veteran looking for closure – for Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode it’s Ellen Burstyn’s Chris MacNeil, still searching for her once-possessed daughter Regan – but it’s a bit naff (she’s written a bestseller about her demonic experiences). The Exorcist: Believer doesn’t know what to do with her, beyond setting up the inevitable sequel.
Green does build an unsettling atmosphere early on, via twitchy camera moves and choppy editing, and the girls’ prosthetic wounds are nicely in tune with what make-up whizz Dick Smith pulled off in the original. Beyond that, this is the thinnest of pea-green soup.
In cinemas worldwide Oct 6.