David Gordon Green (pictured above) and the team behind resurrecting the Halloween (2018) films are back, and this time they have possession on their minds… This Autumn marks exactly 50 years since The Exorcist landed on screens, shocking audiences around the world and now this October sees a new chapter begin with The Exorcist: Believer.
The Exorcist: Believer follows Victor Fielding who, since the death of his pregnant wife in a Haitian earthquake 12 years ago, has been raising their daughter, Angela on his own.
But when Angela and her friend Katherine, disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, it unleashes a chain of events that will force Victor to confront the nadir of evil and, in his terror and desperation, seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil.
The film stars Ellen Burstyn who, for the first time since the 1973 film, reprises her iconic role as Chris MacNeil, an actress who has been forever altered by what happened to her daughter Regan five decades before.
The Exorcist: Believer is directed by David Gordon Green from a screenplay by Peter Sattler (Camp X-Ray) and David Gordon Green, from a story by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills), Danny McBride (Halloween trilogy) and David Gordon Green, based on characters created by William Peter Blatty.
Directed and co-written by David Gordon Green (alongside Peter Sattler and from a story by himself Halloween alumni Scott Teems and Danny McBride), we sat down with Green to find out how Exorcist compares with Halloween, what scares us horror fans can expect and whether he’s planning on doing more Excorist movies…
It’s been 50 years since the first Exorcist movie was released, what do you think it is about this movie and these characters that have endured for all that time?
I think ultimately there are no answers and William Friedkin’s movie so brilliantly acknowledges that with the ambiguity that he lays into his movie. We tried to give maybe a few more answers, but still ask a lot of questions and give the audience a chance to ask their own about what’s above and beyond and what’s really out there.
How did you go about making an Exorcist movie for modern audiences?
Modern audiences, in a lot of ways, are a bit more de-sensitised to movies. Not just about possession but horror movies in general and very often the appetite is for something a little bit more grotesque and gratuitous and more answers and more logic and more twists. So I wanted to make sure that this movie appealed to a contemporary horror audience, but then also challenge them.
Sure, we’ve got some great scares and frights and some nightmarish elements and sequences, but let’s make sure that we ground that with character and substance and things that can make a movie about spirituality and adolescence and parenthood as meaningful as possible.
Did you approach Exorcist in the same way you approached the new Halloween movies?
Completely differently! We used the same crew from top to bottom. It was the same characters that I’ve had a really wonderful working experience with over the last few years and last few films. But we wanted to approach this very differently. So where Halloween is a little bit more jumping out of the closet and jump-scares and gross, grotesque and kills and violence and that kind of popcorn horror fun, we wanted this to be a little bit more cerebral and clinical and researched and thoughtful in that way.
What kind of scares can audiences expect from The Exorcist: Believer?
Oh, there’s a little bit of something for everybody! We have some of those moments that sneak up on you, things that you don’t expect, the blend of surprise and suspense. Then what I’m hopeful for is there’s the unnerving quality of horror that gives you something to think about on the way out of the theatre and even the next day.
The Exorcist: Believer also delves into complex issues like religion and grief, what do you think it is about horror movies that allow them to discuss such involved subjects?
I think it’s a place where we can go and purge ourselves of real-world horrors. It’s a way that we can safely go to dangerous places and things that are out of our control in the real world. I think by watching a movie with your friends in a theatre, with a group of people, that experience, that congregation, can be really cathartic.
Will we be seeing anymore Exorcist movies?
That’s the hope. This movie and the research of this movie in particular opened up a world of possession and belief in ceremony and rituals. I had the objective of making one film at a time but contemplating where we could go with this. So there are a lot of directions that we left behind that I would love to take up in future sequels.
What are you most looking forward to audiences seeing when they sit down to watch The Exorcist: Believer?
I think first and foremost, I’m hoping that they enjoy great performances. We’ve got an amazing cast. Leslie Odom, Jr. and Ellen Burstyn, Ann Dowd and Jennifer Nettles, and these incredible discoveries of Lidya [Jewett] and Olivia [O’Neill] that play the two young possessed girls. I’m hoping that there’s a captivating performance and enthralling narrative that people can enjoy watching, to give themselves something to think about and then have a whole lot of scares in the middle to give them something to scream about!
The Exorcist: Believer will be released in cinemas on 6 October