The Exorcist is the latest franchise to get the legacy treatment. But despite the original film’s iconic status, reactions to the new Exorcist: Believer trailer are decidedly mixed.
While some people are simply excited to see a new Exorcist movie, others accuse this film of being a cynical rehash of the Exorcist brand. In the words of one detractor, “It’s like they’re putting these IPs into a legacy sequel generator that just makes the same movie over and over again.”
The main criticism here is that The Exorcist: Believer relies far too heavily on nostalgia. The trailer’s only distinguishing features are the Exorcist theme music and original star Ellen Burstyn. Otherwise, it looks like a forgettably derivative demonic possession movie.
The Exorcist: Believer is directed by David Gordon Green, who made the last three Halloween movies. However, there’s a difference between the popcorn entertainment vibe of Halloween and The Exorcist‘s more acclaimed reputation.
In addition to popularizing the exorcism genre, the original Exorcist was a deceptively sophisticated psychological drama about motherhood, puberty, and medical malpractice. These qualities are why its sequels never measured up. (Although the largely-unrelated Exorcist TV series starring John Cho was surprisingly great.)
A modern Exorcist sequel runs into problems almost immediately.
For some classic horror fans, Believer‘s boilerplate demonic possession story cheapens the depth of the original. And even if you’re happy to watch this kind of nostalgic sequel, The Exorcist: Believer still has to compete with decades of similar-looking Exorcist copycats. It doesn’t offer anything new, making it an easy target for the growing backlash against recycled Hollywood IP.