“The Exorcist: Believer” demonstrates a need for conclusion

Students receipt for The Exorcist: Believer
Student’s receipt for “The Exorcist: Believer”
Emma Chrapowicki

On October 6th, 2023, the seventh installment of The Exorcist franchise, The Exorcist: Believer was released in theaters, and has since been met with mixed reviews. The haunting tale follows a young girl, named Angela, thirteen years after the tragic loss of her mother in a natural disaster. On what Angela thought was a typical post-school afternoon, she finds herself unraveling a brooding spiral of hysteria as she and her friend Katherine wander into the woods and are reported missing. When they are found, their parents observe atypical activity from the two. In true The Exorcist fashion, the girls show worsening signs of possession. The climax of the film follows an exorcism of both girls, featuring Ellen Burstyn of The Exorcist fame. Each installment of the franchise details a central theme of demonic possession, though Believer provides more closure. One of the girls is sacrificed for the other, and Chris MacNeil is reunited with her daughter, Regan. The full-circle nature of the film strives to work, but there is a drawback: the notion of The Exorcist lost its spark when it became more than an isolated event.

In 1973, the genre of horror was changed immensely because of The Exorcist. The film began showing in a series of theaters that December and went on to generate over $440 million in profits at the box office. The film then became a franchise of media with the release of its 1977 sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, and continued to produce films of similar elements up to this year.

“I thought the scary scenes [of the sequel] were interesting, such as the back-breaking and the levitating,” Anna Topping ‘25 said. Each installment has been consistent in its jarring supernatural visuals, and this notion was further cemented with the release of a new Exorcist film.

The Exorcist as a franchise racked up nearly one billion dollars in profits, with each installment steadily generating less revenue than its predecessor. When talking about the franchise, Mrs. Venezio said, “I think [the producers] kind of wear it thin, and I think it kind of gets watered down. The whole genre almost becomes a bit corny, and I think it’s pretty much almost done for profit.” With much of the entertainment industry amidst a work stoppage, oversaturation has become an increasing threat to independent creatives all over the country. The domination of major franchises and branding such as The Exorcist tends to divert attention away from up-and-coming screenwriters.

While continuous installments of franchises check the profit box, what once was met with critical acclaim becomes diluted in the public eye. The Exorcist: Believer garnered a TomatoMeter score of 22%, which is a 56% decline from the 1973 original. Granted, the franchise stands tall in the horror realm conceptually but has come to a point where a conclusion is necessary.

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