The Exorcist: Believer: Release date, cast, plot for upcoming sequel

50 years after The Exorcist terrified audiences around the world, Pazuzu will rise again

·6 min read
American actress Linda Blair on the set of The Exorcist, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Linda Blair on the set of The Exorcist directed by William Friedkin. (Getty Images)

A new instalment in The Exorcist horror franchise entitled The Exorcist: Believer is coming to cinemas in 2023, just in time for Halloween.

Long hailed as one of the greatest films of all time, The Exorcist shocked the world and pushed the limits of horror when it was unleashed on unsuspecting audiences back in 1973.

The first of its genre to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, William Friedkin’s controversial classic — adapted from William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name — has since garnered a massive following, cementing itself as a staple of pop culture to this day.

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Fast forward to now, where nearly 50 years have passed since it first traumatised audiences with its terrifying plot and nauseating set-pieces. Despite The Exorcist’s sequels flattering to deceive, the horror franchise is being revisited as a retroactive threequel by Blumhouse and David Gordon Green that takes place after the original.

Here’s everything we know about The Exorcist: Believer so far…

The Exorcist: Believer release date

American actress Ellen Burstyn and Swedish actor Max von Sydow on the set of The Exorcist, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow on the set of The Exorcist. (Getty Images)

The first entry in Green’s Exorcist trilogy is slated for release in theatres on the 13 October, 2023. However, no details have been confirmed for the second and third films’ respective release dates at the moment.

Given Universal Pictures’ involvement in this new series, don’t bet against the studio releasing the subsequent sequels on their streaming service Peacock.

The Exorcist: Believer director

David Gordon Green, the director/co-writer of
David Gordon Green, the director/co-writer of Halloween Kills poses at the premiere of the film, 202. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

David Gordon Green, who had already rebooted another iconic horror series with his successful Halloween trilogy, has been attached to direct the first film since December 2020.

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Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride — who co-wrote Green’s Halloween films — is also reuniting with the director who began filming the reboot at the tail end of last year. Staunch sceptics may be aghast at the idea of another “remake” of such a seminal movie, but Green can point to the praise bestowed upon his modern-day Halloween series as proof that he can deliver another great homage to a timeless masterpiece.

However, according to the film’s cinematographer Michael Simmonds, we should expect a vastly different vibe from Green and co. with the new Exorcist movies.

Swedish actor Max von Sydow, American actresses Linda Blair and Louise Fletcher on the set of Exorcist II: The Heretic, directed by John Boorman. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Max von Sydow, Linda Blair and Louise Fletcher on the set of Exorcist II: The Heretic, directed by John Boorman. (Getty Images)

While Green’s Halloween trilogy was largely faithful to John Carpenter’s groundbreaking 1978 slasher, each film was full of nostalgic callbacks and soap opera sensibilities. Simmonds told SyFy the new Exorcist will be “more suspenseful, claustrophobic, and true to the original material”.

Unlike Carpenter though, who was involved in scoring the Halloween threequel, original Exorcist director Friedkin dispelled any rumours that he would be working on the new sequels.

Talking to Yahoo about the reboot, producer Jason Blum told us: "We’re gonna surprise everyone with The Exorcist. I know there are a lot of sceptics out there, a lot of people who think this is sacred ground that we should not be treading on. But my job is to prove them wrong and I am confident. We have a terrific script."

The Exorcist: Believer plot

The Exorcist Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair 1973. (Photo by Screen Archives/Getty Images)
Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair in 1973's The Exorcist. (Screen Archives/Getty Images)

Despite the first entry in this new trilogy being “90% done” at the time of writing, not much has been revealed about the film’s premise so far. What we do know is that Green intends on following up on the original’s story, which centred around a single parent’s efforts to save her possessed daughter Regan through a brutal exorcism performed by a pair of world-weary priests.

Furthermore, it seems that Green will consider the original Exorcist’s many sequels as canon, noting that “they can all fall into the acceptable mythology” for what he’s doing.

Despite his own Halloween projects completely disregarding everything that followed the 1978 original, Green reckons that the largely derided follow-ups to Friedkin’s magnum opus — including the two-season TV series that was first aired in 2016 — only extend and enhance his vision for the franchise.

During the CinemaCon expo in Las Vegas in April 2023, attendees were treated to an early trailer and some additional plot details. It was here where we first learned that Green's sequel will feature not one but two possessed tweens who find themselves living with demons after they return from a stint missing in the woods.

The Exorcist: Believer cast

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 22: Ellen Burstyn arrives at the Academy's 45th Anniversary Screening Of
Ellen Burstyn arrives at the Academy's 45th Anniversary Screening Of The Exorcist, 2018. (Morgan Lieberman/Getty Images)

Green’s plan became evident when it was confirmed that Ellen Burstyn — who played tormented mother Chris MacNeil in the original — will reprise her role in this year’s yet-to-be-titled iteration. In this version, Burstyn’s Chris holds the key to Leslie Odom Jr.’s (One Night in Miami) character’s quest to rescue his own child from a malevolent spirit.

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Alongside Burstyn and Odom Jr., Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum will star as the film's possessed tweens, with Ann Dowd (Hereditary) joining as Paula, a nurse who is concerned about the duo's behaviour. The foul-mouthed demon Pazuzu will make his return five decades after taking over Regan to shocking effect.

Leslie Odom Jr poses for photographers upon arrival for the premiere of the film 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery' and the closing evening of the 2022 London Film Festival in London
Leslie Odom Jr at the premiere of the film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. (Getty)

While an official trailer has yet to be released online, CinemaCon audiences have since offered reports of terrifying scenes in the footage they saw.

During the clip, attendees witnessed moments including the possessed girls staring dead-eyed into a mirror for long stretches of time and one particularly chilling sequence in which Marcum's character bursts into a church service and yells "The body and the blood" to a priest in Pazuzu's booming, demonic voice.

The Exorcist: Believer will arrive in cinemas on 13 October, 2023.

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