‘The Exorcist: Believer’ Tells its Own Story, But a Roadmap is Set for a Trilogy

Thứ sáu - 17/05/2024 23:42
David Gordon Green and Jason Blum on how the approached evoking the original Exorcist and finding the right kids to play demonically possessed girls.
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Having had a lot of success with their trilogy of Halloween movies that kicked off in 2018, director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum have re-teamed for The Exorcist: Believer.

Once more, the duo are revisiting the world of an iconic, beloved 1970s horror film with a decades-later follow-up, with Believer telling the story of two girls who go missing. When they are found several days later, it soon becomes clear something is very wrong with both girls, and as more and more horrifying signs of demonic possession become evident, the father of one of the children (Leslie Odom Jr.) goes looking for answers, which includes tracking down none other than Chris McNeil, whose own daughter Regan endured a similar ordeal in the 1973 original Exorcist – with Ellen Burstyn returning to reprise her role from that classic movie for the first time ever.

Gordon and Blum spoke to Fandom about their trilogy plans and why it was important Believer still functions on its own, what they wanted to evoke from the original, and finding the right kids who could go to the places needed to play the possessed girls at the center of the story.


(L-R) Tony (Norbert Leo Butz), Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) and Miranda (Jennifer Nettles) in The Exorcist: Believer

It has been announced that The Exorcist: Believer is the first film of a trilogy – the second, The Exorcist: Deceiver, is currently scheduled for April 18, 2025 – though it’s worth nothing that much like 2018’s Halloween, David Gordon Green and Jason Blum don’t end their first Blumhouse incarnation of this franchise with an explicit set up or cliffhanger for a sequel. Viewed on its own, Believer very much functions as its own complete story.

Regarding what has been planned out going forward, Green explained, “Before we started filming this, we had a roadmap of where we might go,” adding that when it came to announcing a trilogy early, “You always say a trilogy is something that’s manageable for the public to kind of consume that concept.”

That being said, he remarked, when it comes to The Exorcist: Believer, “I also want to make sure that this is a movie that does exist on its own so you don’t need to have seen the original film, you don’t need to expand it if this is what feels honest in its own right. But then if fans respond and it feels like we want to go deeper, we’ve got characters and tangents and detours and ways to explore and expand this.”

Without getting into specifics of what could come next, Green noted, “With the concept of exorcism, it’s vast, it’s infinite, it’s spiritual. There’s a world of uncertainty out there and there’s nothing I like better than poking my head into the unknown.”


Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) in The Exorcist: Believer

The original Exorcist is not only considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, it’s one that definitely pushed boundaries and crossed lines in terms of its content in a mainstream movie.

It feels unlikely any modern studio film could recapture that exact alchemy, but asked what it was about the original he most wanted to evoke making his film, Green replied, “It’s trying to make it relatable. And I think there’s certain things from the original film… It’s an unnerving, parental drama about the uncertainty of your child. And then you infuse as much horror into that experience as you can. And so it’s taking things like that, it’s music, like the ‘Tubular Bells,’ the iconic music that we associate with that, and having just enough of those to feel like we are honoring the original film.”

Director David Gordon Green on the set of The Exorcist: Believer

Ultimately though, Green stressed when it came to the original, “We’re not trying to recreate that in any way. And so I take the handful of ingredients that I think define what The Exorcist means to me, and then I then I dig into my own soul and say ‘What personalizes it?’ This needs a real perspective, a real point of view. And it needs to come from within me and my co-writer, Pete [Sattler], and so we just rolled up our sleeves and put our heart on the line and made a movie.”

As far as how the original and Believer compare, Jason Blum remarked, “The same lines that I feel like we crossed that were crossed in both movies, I hope, is the feeling of this is really happening to these people.”

Blum added that he’s often asked what scares people the most, and his answer is, “What scares people the most is for them to watch a situation and suspend disbelief so they think it’s really happening. And I think David did a very successful job at evoking that feeling, which was in the first movie, to The Exorcist: Believer as well.”


Angela Fielding (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia Marcum) in The Exorcist: Believer

Though Leslie Odom Jr.’s Victor is the main character in Believer, the film doesn’t work if you aren’t invested in the two young girls who are enduring this horrific possession and who, like Regan McNeil before them, say and do awful things to all around them, including their loved ones. All of which is to say, a lot was resting on the shoulders of young Lidya Jewet and Olivia Marcum.

Asked about finding these two integral roles, and two girls who were up for the considerable challenges that go with playing someone who is possessed, Green explained, “It was through Terri [Taylor] and Sarah [Domeier] Lindo at Blumhouse casting. They found these two incredibly talented actresses. We got in a room with them and realized that they can bring the authenticity of their age, of their voice, into the characters that we’ve created with some vague architecture.”

Green said he was impressed by Jewet and Marcum’s ability to go to the dark places needed for the film but then immediately be able to reset once their work was done, remarking, “The best thing about them is they are very healthy, very educated, very academic in a way that doesn’t doesn’t inhibit them from being very emotional. So when we have very dark subject matter and some pretty significant, intense scenes to go into, they can go there, but they can come out, they can take a deep breath, and be back in a healthy childhood like that.”

The Exorcist: Believer opens Friday, October 6.

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