South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

MOVIE REVIEW: It’s terrible day for an exorcism

“The Exorcist: Believer” is an unmitigated failure
Jack McCarty
“The Exorcist: Believer” was released into theaters Oct. 6.

How did we get here folks? 50 years after the release of one of the best and most iconic horror films ever made, they are still making sequels that not only fail to reach the bar that the original set, but also somehow manages to limbo dance beneath the earth’s crust right under it. It’s almost admirable in a way. Think about it, most of us aren’t willing to do anything for as long as they’ve been making terrible “Exorcist” sequels.

A lot of you might not have known that there was even a sequel to “The Exorcist,” and even less probably know that the original “Exorcist” was part of a trilogy that ended in 1990. In the entire state of South Dakota there are probably less than five people that know about the two films that came out in 2004 and 2005, “Exorcist: The Beginning” and “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist” respectively. That makes this film the sixth entry in the “Exorcist” franchise, and while it doesn’t live up to the legacy of the original, it does live up to the legacy of the sequels in the way that “The Exorcist: Believer” is downright unwatchable.

The first glaring issue with the film is one that I have seen too many films in recent years make. The movie is way too dark. Not that the subject matter is too scary or disturbing, this movie is a walk-through Disneyland compared to the original in that regard. No, the lighting is too dark to see anything. My brother and I were both squinting for what felt like half the movie. This made it physically painful to watch at times.

The pacing is also a problem. To describe it as rushed would be an understatement. Where in the original there was a slow but meaningful build up to the final climactic exorcism scene, it feels like this movie is sprinting as quickly as it possibly can to the action as if it thinks that if the movie doesn’t show you something spooky for two seconds, you’ll just leave the theater.

Another problem that this film, and so many other modern horror films have, is that its liberal use of jump scares. This has practically become my litmus test for any horror movie. If it feels the need to psych you out with five or six jump scares before anything scary happens, then the movie you’re watching probably isn’t worth your time. If it can’t earn a scare the right way through proper use of writing, tension, and all the other tools filmmakers have, then it’s less a movie and more akin to one of those lame haunted houses you find at the county fair. I guess that’s the one nice thing I can say about this movie; it is marginally more entertaining than a cheap carnival ride.

One slight issue I had with the original film was that I was a bit disappointed with how short the actual exorcism scene is. It only takes up about 20 minutes at the very end and I was hoping that we would get to see a bit more of the process. “The Exorcist: Believer” shows why that would have been a terrible idea. This is because most of the film is taken up by the film’s mediocre attempt at an exorcist scene, and it is beyond tedious to watch. My brother almost fell asleep during it, and if I were not in such stunned disbelief at the incompetency of the film, I probably would have as well.

That’s also why I said before that this movie barely even feels like a movie. It tries to make a proper introduction and set up, but then by the time the exorcism starts around the second act, it just gives up and becomes a bunch of people mindlessly screaming at two little girls strapped to a chair, and then the movie just kind of ends.

There is something that could be considered a payoff and a slight twist at the end, but by the time the movie wraps up it feels like nothing has even happened. It just left me with the feeling that the movie hadn’t even started yet, even though I had been sitting there for over two hours. It was incredibly surreal.

If I had to say anything genuinely positive about the movie it would probably be that the effects weren’t too bad. I didn’t really notice anything cheesy or blatantly fake, but with how everything else about the movie doesn’t even remotely come together I’m not sure how much that really matters.

I also feel bad for the actors because I think that they were honestly trying and giving it their all, but the writing and the direction was just so bad that it masks anything even resembling talent.

Everything from its pacing to its writing, to its basic cinematography, this film somehow manages not to get a single thing right. Where the original works as a masterful dive and exploration into the uncanny valley, the only uncanny thing about “The Exorcist: Believer” is how little it seems to resemble a functioning piece of art. And while I love terrible horror movies, this movie isn’t bad the way movies like “Jason X” or “The Leprechaun” are, where it’s fun and doesn’t take it’s self too seriously. This movie is just boring and that’s the worst thing any piece of art can be. Save your money. This movie sucks, I give it a 2/10.

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Jack McCarty, Entertainment Editor

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