In a universe where The Exorcist has aged like a sweet, fortified wine packed with horror flavor, the challenge of creating a sequel that doesn't end up tasting like a rip-off of cheap imitation brands, can feel akin to wrestling a demonic spirit. The pioneering endeavor to haunt our souls by director William Friedkin and writer William Peter Blatty remains unmatched by countless imitators, even 50 years later when Sunday church bells echo a bit hollow, and demons are less of a concern than dwindling bank accounts.
Filmmaker duo David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum merrily picked this gauntlet to honor the legacy of the original classic. After successfully rebooting the Halloween series, these gentlemen have now taken it upon themselves to resurrect the deadliest, wicked entity within the horror genre. The result? An anxiously awaited sequel: "The Exorcist: Believer".
Blum, who has paved a lucrative road of startling gasps and screams leading to Horror Bank with projects like Get Out, Happy Death Day, and the Paranormal Activity, admits to finding "The Exorcist" a harder nut to crack, given its terrifying reputation among generations. A rehash or copycat of the original was never going to cut it.
Green agrees, acknowledging that the original shocked the world with its depiction of anguish and evil, firmly grounded in faith and religion. And now, when we are living in a time when exorcisms are seen more as Hollywood stunts than actual rites, bringing the same level of horror requires a deeper understanding of modern beliefs, faiths, and fears.
Ryan Turek, a horror specialist and a crucial part of Blumhouse Productions, aptly underscores how the horror elements from the original movie struck the audience with shock and awe. Now that spine-chilling crawl on the wall, spewing of grotesque substances, and revolving heads are cliches, the challenge is to reinvent these classic elements while maintaining audiences' link with the original.
The original Exorcist proved a bone-chiller due to its blend of spiritual beliefs and gruesome horror. Green admits that to be truly horrific, the sequel needs to adhere to the contemporary notions of faith and skepticism. The sequel invites us into a more complex spiritual nexus with characters harboring varying degrees of faith, and sometimes, a lack thereof.
True to its commitment of rendering authentic horror, "Exorcist: Believer" not only brings back Ellen Burstyn as Chris, Regan's mother but has invested tremendously in creating an intense atmosphere that resonates with the creepy soundtracks and spectacular makeup effects. Trust us, it's going to make your skin crawl!
What truly sets this sequel apart is the blatant attention to ensure safety and emotional well-being for the cast involved, a marked departure from the original's notorious production tales. Hired as a stunt coordinator, Ashley Rae Trisler took up the objective of creating spectacular scenes without endangering the actors' physical health or startling them with surprise gunshots or slaps!
Additionally, to ensure that horrifying scenes did not get under the skin of the young actors, Hollywood's OG possessed child, Linda Blair, was present on-set as an advisor. Though Blair doesn't make a cinematic return as Regan, her presence was pivotal to guide the young actors through the demonic labyrinth.
As creators, Green and Blum are determined that the remake trumps its predecessor not with shock tactics, but with its immersive story, layered characters and contemporary scares that seep into your psyche. So, should you watch "Exorcist: Believer"? We would say "yes" - but don't forget to bring your crucifix along!
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