Fifty years ago, “The Exorcist” the most terrifying horror film in history landed on screens that shocked audiences around the world. From the veins of the original film comes a new chapter that will again shock today’s audience to the core in “The Exorcist: Believer”, produced by Blumhouse and (director) David Gordon Green, known for their work in resurrecting the global hit Halloween franchise.
Once again trailblazing the horror genre in “The Exorcist: Believer”, Blumhouse and director Green infuses horror anew when two teenage girls and those around them face grave danger when they are possessed by a Mesopotamian demon called Lamashtu. In the film, teenagers Angela (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) set foot into the woods one afternoon on a school day and unknowingly brought something evil with them while stepping into the most terrifying episode of their lives.
Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.) is Angela’s dad who lost his wife in a Haiti earthquake while being pregnant with Angela. Since then, Victor devoted his life raising Angela on his own. Katherine’s parents Miranda (Jennifer Nettles) and Tony (Norberto Leo Butz) are devout Christians with unshakeable faith who are also the pillars of their church. With totally different background, the two families soon find themselves battling the demon with the help of their community to save the girls’ lives.
For Green, the film also allowed him to investigate and contemplate a long-held interest. “I’ve grown up with a fascination of religions of all sorts,” Green says. “When I see a movie that has a religious theme, I’ll often read more about it, or research it.” Although the 1973 film relied primarily on a Catholic interpretation of possession, The Exorcist: Believer examines it from the perspective of multiple faiths.
The demon that possesses the girls in “The Exorcist: Believer” is a Mesopotamian figure called Lamashtu, fabled by the ancient peoples as a bloodthirsty succubus who has become a hungry thief of newborns. According to the Harvard Library Bulletin, “By the first millennium BCE, Lamashtu was portrayed consistently with a lion’s head and a woman’s body, while retaining the trait of bird talons for feet.”
Lamashtu is a different demon than the demon in the original novel and 1973 film. That demon was Pazuzu. According to the website for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Pazuzu, as a powerful demon, was frequently set up as a shield against another supernatural terror: Lamashtu, a female demon with broad and far-ranging destructive powers, especially feared by pregnant women and those with newborns, who were her favored (but not only) victims.”
Taking the audience into the heart of darkness and with the parents’ dire need to extract the demon out of their daughters, the film touches base with Chris MacNeill (Ellen Burstyn), a character from the original film whose daughter Regan (Linda Blair) had also been possessed by the demon. Chris has dedicated her life to helping others understand the phenomenon of possession—especially other parents who have gone through hardships of the unexplained. Chris is now a successful author who embarked upon this work for the love of her daughter, and she comes into Victor’s orbit through an introduction to her writings by Victor’s neighbor, Ann (Ann Dowd). “Chris has had 50 years of living,” Burstyn says, “And I thought, ‘Who has she become? That interested me creatively. We are, in any moment of time, the sum total of everything that has happened to us and how that has become part of our character. That was an interesting challenge to explore.”
From Universal Pictures International (Ph), a new vein of horror will possess cinemas when “The Exorcist: Believer” opens October 4. Terror starts to strike at the midnight screenings on its opening day at your favorite theaters!